Colleges seek a return to normalcy in the fall by bringing students back to campus

Colleges and universities across the country are planning for a more normal fall semester.

Campus Reform spoke with students, who seem pleased with going back to in-person classes.

As the number of vaccinated Americans ascends, universities across the nation are announcing plans to return to in-person classes in the fall. Campus Reform spoke to students about the decisions. 

Arizona State University

In the Spring, Arizona State University students were able to attend classes “synchronously through a hybrid of in-person and remote attendance,” fully in person, or completely online. In an effort to return to normalcy, ASU will be returning to “Learning Mode 1” in Fall 2021 which means classes will largely be offered only on campus and in-person. Some courses, however, will still be offered both online and in person. 

ASU sophomore Christian Merante told Campus Reform that all colleges should reopen in the fall. 

“With or without the vaccine, our age group has above 95% COVID survival rate, and currently, 1.5 million people nationwide are getting vaccinated daily. Here at ASU, thousands of students are partying, playing intramural sports, going out every[day], just living their everyday life and chilling. We should reopen for fall ‘21,” Merante said. 

ASU junior Ashley Love told Campus Reform that “it’s about time we give students the option to attend class in person.”

“Students have been paying full price for in person classes and have only been able to receive mostly online lectures, which I believe is unfair. If I’m paying for in person classes, I want to be physically in those classes with students and professors. We’ve been cooped up for too long and it’s time we have some human interaction again!,” Love said. 

University of Oregon

The University of Oregon announced that it will implement “predominantly in-person education” in the fall. 

“I hope you’ll join me in my excitement about the governor’s announcement and the increased certainty it provides. I look forward to a physical campus environment that is once again humming with energy,” university president Michael H. Schill said in the announcement.

[RELATED: Iowa bill aims to rein in colleges’ COVID control]

Oklahoma State University

As cases decline, Oklahoma State University announced its plans to return to on-campus instruction in the fall. The university hopes to achieve “herd immunity” on campus through “widespread vaccination,” “handwashing, distancing and mask use.” 

Vice Provost Dr. Jeanette Mendez said that OSU’s goal has always been to return to in-person learning. 

“While pleased we have online as an option, our top priority is to safely return to in-person classes and labs this coming fall,” Mendez said. 

University of California System

The University of California System is planning to implement in-person instruction for all of its ten campuses in the fall. In the past six months, the university system has been nearly fully online. In the fall, the almost half a million students enrolled in the UC System will be able to attend class face-to-face. Specific plans will be made on a campus-by-campus basis. 

“Current forecasts give us hope that in the fall our students can enjoy a more normal on-campus experience,” system President Michael V. Drake, M.D. said.

University of California, Berkeley sophomore Megan Wang told Campus Reform that she thinks the return to campus is a “good idea.” 

“The students have been staying home for almost an entire year now, and it’s not news that online school has been negatively impacting both their academic performance, interpersonal skills, and most importantly, mental health. They really should’ve been allowed to go back a long time ago. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself,” Wang said. 

However, Wang is not entirely hopeful the plan will come to fruition. 

“But with the current Biden Administration clearly having no better idea how to handle the virus than the previous administration, I’m not entirely confident that they will follow through with the opening plan,” she added.

[RELATED: Berkeley’s draconian COVID-19 restrictions look more like prison than college]

Bruin Republicans at the University of California, Los Angeles echoed this sentiment to Campus Reform by noting the “lack of details” UCLA has provided for the fall semester. This “lack of transparency” has left students “completely in the dark” according to the organization.

“In terms of communication, UCLA’s reopening plans have not been transparent and the efforts are lackluster at best. The absence of a concrete plan for a return to in-person instruction is demonstrative of the school’s continued obedience to unrealistic and unscientific county health ordinances,” the group told Campus Reform

“Even though the administration knows full well that a majority of the student-aged population would have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine come September. Students, especially first-years, feel cheated out of a year of university by forcibly confining college to a computer screen and a desk,” the Bruin Republicans said.

Clemson University

As reported by the Clemson Insider, in an email to students, Clemson announced that it is gearing up for a “near-typical” fall semester. All furniture and desks in storage will be returned to classrooms so that all students may take classes on campus if they choose. The change is due to low national and campus infection rates and the anticipated increase in vaccinated students and faculty that will be on campus. Clemson will still act with caution as COVID-19 protocols such as mask enforcement, testing, cleaning, and quarantining will be in effect.

Campus Reform spoke to Clemson senior Kristen Harvey who said online instruction had a “negative impact” on her overall college education. 

“The delayed interaction between teachers and students coupled with the lack of dialogue with classmates has prevented me from learning at full capacity. For this reason, I am thrilled that Clemson will be offering more in-person instruction next semester. I believe that a traditional classroom experience will only enhance the learning capabilities on students,” Harvey said. 

Rutgers University 

Rutgers University announced its intentions to welcome all students back to its three campuses  for in-person learning in the fall. 

President Jonathan Holloway said that he envisions a “fall in which all students will have the opportunity for face-to-face instruction in some format, departments will return to campus on staggered and rotational schedules that could include some telecommuting, residence halls will increase their occupancy, and on-campus activities will resume.”

“We intend to be back 100 percent—just not all at the same time,” Holloway said in the announcement.

[RELATED: Students sue UT-Austin over COVID-era tuition]

Ohio University System

Ohio University System president M. Duane Nellis announced that students and faculty will experience a “more normal summer and fall” this year as students will be welcomed back to all campuses for in-person instruction and activities.

There will be an increased number of in-person courses available, completely open residence halls on certain campuses and more on-campus student activities. Campus visits for prospective students will be more prevalent, and the annual student orientation will be held in-person during the summer on campus.

Purdue University

Purdue University announced a “full restoration” of residential learning for fall 2021. 

Because the university’s Medical Advisory Team predicts that every American who wishes to be vaccinated will be, a return to campus is possible. Although face coverings will still be required, restrictions on student activities are expected to be “relaxed.”

Temple University

Temple University recently announced its plans for a “primarily in person” fall semester.

“We hope to return to a vibrant campus experience, with our residence halls, dining halls, student center and academic buildings, as well as our athletic and recreational facilities, open this fall,” president Richard M. Englert said.

Temple senior Grace Bloem told Campus Reform that although she is graduating this year, she thinks it is “great” for students to “actually get to experience real college and not be stuck on the screen.”

“Having everything on zoom has been hard and I think has taken a tole [sic] on us all mentally,” she continued.

University of Alabama System

The University of Alabama System disclosed that its campuses will return to “traditional in-person instruction without restrictions on classroom capacity” in the fall. 

The decision was made after the UA System Health and Safety Task Force and UAB Medicine made a  “unified recommendation” to Chancellor Finis St. John IV and the Board of Trustees that the fall semester can return to a higher degree of normalcy.

University of Alabama freshman Leelee Shaw told Campus Reform that she thinks the return to normalcy is a “great idea.”

“UA has done a great job of keeping their students and faculty safe during this pandemic through a lot of online learning, but it’s time to start bringing things back to normal and having in-person classes and full-capacity events! There’s so much less productivity and learning happening through online school and it takes away from so much that college has to offer,” Shaw said.

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