Editorial: Are we ready to be back on-campus?

Editorial Board

As we finish our first week of on-campus classes, it can feel exciting to get back into—or just start—(mostly) standard college classes. However, after over two semesters of online courses, it can also feel overwhelming and even daunting to be back on campus. 

For students, being back in person can be a significant adjustment from Zoom classes. Instead of rolling out of bed and turning on our computers, we now have to commute to classes as far as 45 minutes away from our dorms or apartments. Instead of napping in our beds if we have a 30-minute break between classes, we spend that time rushing between the quads. If we grow bored or tired during classes, we can’t just turn off our cameras, mute our mics and get our phones out. Students might be taking the same amount of credits as they did on Zoom, but traveling across campus, sitting up straight and not having access to freely be on our phones is exhausting. Furthermore, students don’t have the option to contribute their thoughts via chat or speak without a camera on, making it harder for introverts or those who aren’t comfortable with public speaking to get a good participation grade. 

The list of vast differences between online and in-person classes goes on and on, and likely, most students didn’t account for these differences amid the excitement of returning to campus. Although it might not necessarily be harmful to return to a life pre-pandemic at Case Western Reserve University, it is still a considerable change.

While students get used to being on campus, other members of CWRU’s population, such as the professors, are also adjusting to an entire student body. While professors might agree that fundamentally teaching in-person is significantly better than online, having to adapt to masks and transition from online learning is no easy feat. While students might be struggling to pay attention for the entire duration of the class, professors may also be struggling to keep their attention in class. If a professor is in a large classroom, their voices might not carry towards the back of the room with a mask. 

Another facet that many college students may not think about being back in person is the unvaccinated population, particularly the toddlers and kids of professors. While it is true that most of CWRU’s population is vaccinated, the Delta variant is still spreading in vaccinated populations, including on-campus. It does not help that many students are going out on weekends, maskless, to large parties around the CWRU area. Students have already tested positive for COVID-19 and have been to in-person classes before being quarantined; this is disconcerting to both students and professors alike, but especially for professors with unvaccinated and/or immunocompromised children—or even if they are immunocompromised themselves. Additionally, there are professors in the SAGES department who also work at the Writing and Resource Center, which will have both in-person and online meetings. Even if they would prefer to work in person with students, they may not be able to do so because they have children at-risk for COVID-19.

Of course, it is exciting for everyone to be back on campus after being cooped up for so long. However, it is an adjustment for both professors and students, who are two different sides of the same coin. Adapting to learning in-person and teaching in-person is not easy, and it’s tougher on the professors who have loved ones to protect. Coming back to CWRU is almost a culture shock, so as we move forward, it’s essential to be aware that everyone is adjusting to life on-campus at a different pace.