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A reflection on the return to in-person classes

Welcome back to in-person classes! We know everyone is eager to get back to learning in person, after nearly two years of hybrid/online classes, and we are just as eager too. However, we are also cautious about diving right back into in-person learning. 

We are all extremely happy to be back to in-person classes. We have all noticed an improvement in the quality of our classes, and we enjoy the fruitful discussion that now happens in place of the awkward silence in breakout rooms when people’s cameras are off. Also, ITS has been amazing with troubleshooting technical problems this first week. ITS workers have been stopping into classrooms to ensure professors are not having any technical issues with recording lectures or working monitors. That doesn’t go unnoticed by us and we are happy to be getting back towards that normal. 

While it is lovely to see campus full again and be able to run into friends and professors almost like we are back to pre-COVID-19 times, we now find ourselves in the situation with the old issues that we used to have to worry about on-campus. Dining halls are as overcrowded as ever, classes are crammed, the block schedule is inconvenient; all of this is happening while students have to adjust their schedules back to accommodate non-virtual life. Some of our editors spent over thirty minutes in line just to get food and have had to adjust schedules to factor in commuting to campus. 

The 10 minutes in between classes is not a sufficient amount of time. While Brandeis isn’t a large campus to navigate, a lot of professors do not actually end their classes on time, which means that we get out of class a few minutes late. This cuts down your commute time from 10 minutes to five. If you have class on the other side of campus, tough luck because you will not get there on time. 

To make this better, our old problems are back all while COVID-19 issues still persist: we have experienced students not coming to classes in masks, which is just unacceptable and against university policy. Additionally, the dining halls and upper Usdan are crowded which is an inconvenience and just simply unsafe. Yet the students did not face any repercussions for not wearing a mask. Also, the fact that students are back to being crammed into tiny classrooms doesn’t help people feel comfortable. Classes with a capacity of 20 people are shoved into a tiny room where students sit shoulder to shoulder around one table. 

We are happy to be getting back towards normal but at the same time we realize we are still in the thick of this pandemic, just coming out of the woods of the Omnicron variant which did impact our campus. It’s nice to be back to the in-person setting but it feels as though people have forgotten that the pandemic is still happening. The safety precautions in place last year to prevent the spread of COVID-19, have somehow vanished. No passports are being checked when entering classrooms, no one is cleaning surfaces of desks and social distancing is a thing of the past apparently. 

We want to be back in person, but we have to consider whether what we want is the practical and safe options for maintaining the health and wellness of our community members. 

We want to take a moment to also remind students to take care of themselves. While moving back to in-person your schedule is going to change. You may need to wake up earlier in order to eat breakfast and not just two Altoids. Getting up earlier means having to go to bed earlier, which is a nearly foreign concept after being accustomed to just rolling out of bed and onto a Zoom class. Also, make sure you have time to take a break in the middle of your day to have a snack or take a nap. A lot of students didn’t factor in meals or commuting when making their schedule because it wasn’t a concern when everything was online. We have been lucky in one regard with having online classes, it’s easy to do work up until you have to jump online, you don’t have to actually physically get yourself anywhere. But that’s not the way life is, it’s just hard to remember that the past 18 months are not, in fact, normal. 

We are excited to be getting back to normal, but remember,  we are still far away from being there. 


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