Students prioritize safety for upcoming fall semester
May 22, 2020
After finishing the remainder of the semester online, many students still question whether or not they will be able to return for the fall semester. California State University has already announced their classes will remain online in the fall. On the other hand, Northern Illinois University (NIU) stated this week that students will be returning to the campus in DeKalb in August. Students at NIU will still continue to have a “personalized, engaging and inclusive experience” through a combination of small, in person classes and online classes.
As other schools like NIU and Cal State announce plans, University of Illinois students are still in the dark. In the meantime, many students are struggling with the uncertainty of returning in the fall.
Alexie Talsted, a junior in LAS, believes the sooner the University announces the decision, the better.
“If we are doing remote learning again, I want to know soon so I know how to prepare,” Talsted said.
Some students are hopeful they will be returning this semester. Stephen Mullins, a current Ph.D student in political science, thinks otherwise.
“I am a bit hesitant on believing that we will have class in person,” Mullins said.
According to Mullins, there are multiple things to consider before making the move to hold in person classes. Contact tracing is one essential measure the University will need to implement in order to ensure the safety of students on campus.
“Say somebody tests positive for COVID-19 in a lecture course. How will you handle that?” Mullins said. “How do you guarantee somebody will quarantine themselves? If a student tests positive, will they be forced to go home in the middle of the semester? This is why we need contact tracing.”
One solution to this would be to reduce class sizes, similar to what is mentioned in NIU’s plan. Mullins believes doing so may still pose potential problems for students. Many classes on campus are already in high demand, especially courses in computer science. In core computer science courses, students struggle to obtain the seats they need.
“Will those students lose those spots? Having in person classes will come with a lot of opportunity costs,” Mullins said.
Holding online classes raises a few concerns as well, and the online classes themselves are not the problem. Students like Talsted are debating whether it is worth paying the high tuition.
“If classes are online, I am definitely going to look into Parkland,” Talsted said. “In my mind, there is no logic in paying the tuition for online classes. I can just take the same classes at Parkland for cheaper. To me, all online classes are the same.”
With the current economic downturn, many students will not be able to afford a college education. Adding to that, many students have already signed leases they cannot get out of and will continue to pay rent.
“Students are still struggling to pay their rents,” Talsted said. “If the University wants to retain its students, they should make it the same price as an online school.”
At the end of the day, students want one thing the most: safety. Both Mullins and Talsted agree that safety is the biggest priority, whether that be with in person or online classes.
“Whatever the administration decides, and as long as it is safe — it is completely worth it,” Talsted said.
“Safety has to be the biggest priority,” Mullins said. “That will get students to believe that it is, in fact, worth it to continue paying the prices.”
Meghan is a junior in LAS.