Finally, back in the classroom

Peyton Dripps, Senior Writer

About half of the University students have been out of the classroom for around a year and a half due to the current COVID pandemic. Not only did online learning hinder students’ mental health over these months, but many students also lost motivation to work and excel in school after spending hours learning behind a screen. With a lack of physical contact and verbal connection with other students and professors, many college students were shocked when entering a classroom for the first time on August 23, 2021.

The semester brought much anxiety to students. Unaware of what to expect, questions of social distancing in the classroom and the mask mandate caused apprehension among students. These anxieties appeared to decrease through the following weeks of the semester, as students became comfortable with their schedules and classmates.

Despite the anxieties and potential concerns that came on the first day of the fall semester at the University, there seems to be a rise in both students’ mental health and motivation. Students can now fully participate in class without the fear of talking over another student on Zoom. Students have also explained that classes in person are more beneficial and effective due to a lack of computer use. Many have learned bad habits while learning online, as apps on a computer can be distracting. Whether you received a text message or an email during a virtual class, students were easily distracted from the material that was being taught by a professor. Thankfully, this is not the case, as professors now suggest that students take notes with a pen and paper rather than on a Word document.

During the time of virtual learning, it was easy for students to attend class as just a few clicks on their laptop enabled them to make an appearance on Zoom. Many professors complained that students constantly turned their cameras off during class, believing that they were doing other assignments, laying in bed or talking to their roommates or friends. Setting an alarm, waking up, changing and walking across campus to a class has enhanced students’ mental health and desire to succeed at the University. Although students and professors must wear a face-covering in the classroom, students appear much happier learning in-person than through a screen.

We are now able to communicate freely with peers and professors. Showing most of our faces in class rather than hiding behind a turned-off camera during class has improved collaboration in the classroom and inclusion in our community. Students can now walk to class together, get meals in the Bison or Bostwick on the way or back to their residence after a lecture and attend events in person. The University is back to a somewhat normal life.

In the past two weeks, professors have noticed a lack of attendance in class or have received various emails notifying them of an absence. The “Bucknell Plague” has affected many students on campus as our immune systems went into shock. Due to a lack of in-person classes and human contact on campus, students started to feel extremely ill a few weeks after classes began. Some believe that this plague is COVID, while others think it is just another virus. Students experiencing sinus infection symptoms tend to test positive for COVID when receiving professional help and medications at the student health center. With the increase in cases and illnesses on campus, some professors made classes virtual for a week to allow all students to attend class. Their professor’s decisions angered some students while others explained that they needed the so-called “relaxed classes,” that online learning permits.

With classrooms now open for all students on campus, many are happy with the University’s decision to put an end to virtual learning. Students are conversing on campus, making new friends, forming more robust connections and meeting their professors for the first time in person. University students appear highly motivated to succeed in and out of the classroom.

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