Students increase in-person fall courses


the Daily Illini file photo

Professor Mitch Fisher lectures to his ACCY 201: Accounting and Accountancy I class in Lincoln Hall Theater on Aug. 29, 2019. Students have experienced Zoom fatigue and are starting to fill their fall schedules with more in person classes.

By Yashovardhan Maheshwari, Contributing Writer

As the University increases in-person operations for fall, some students plan on increasing their in-person course load. After two and a half semesters, a majority of students would return to the classroom.
“Initially, I loved it, but soon I started to feel extremely exhausted,” said Rudra Patel, sophomore in Business. “Even though I wasn’t doing any physical exercise, I would feel exhausted at the end of the day from being on zoom for 10 hours,” Patel said.
Similar sentiments were shared by other students who suffered Zoom fatigue. Whilst students initially rejoiced at the change, it was an extremely challenging transition for some faculty.
“It was a nightmare,” said Timothy Stelzer, professor in Engineering. “Suddenly, I was doing lectures with no students,”
Now, as COVID-19 cases stabilize, the University plans to move a majority of the classes back to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 semester. After two and a half semesters of majority virtual instruction, students will have the opportunity to take at least 70% to 80% of their classes in person in the fall. Although the University is encouraging students to take in-person classes, most of the courses delivered in person would also be delivered online.
“I am really looking forward to in-person classes and plan to take as many as I can without over stressing myself. (At the University) I have taken more online  than in-person (classes) now, so (I) can’t wait,” Patel said.
“I feel I didn’t learn in online (classes), so I’m ready to go back and learn,” he said, reiterating that his learning was hampered due to an online course delivery.
Although he expressed his excitement, Patel was worried about managing time due to commute between classes and a more time-constrained schedule with in-person classes compared to previous semesters.
“I am excited,” said Anusha Iyer, junior in Engineering. “I wasn’t able to take my hardware courses due to the virtual instruction and I’m looking forward to taking them in fall. Being in a space with other people and just human interaction is something I’m really excited about,” Iyer said.
Iyer stressed the lack of human interaction due to the pandemic and how she is hopeful of more interaction next semester.
“I’ll still wear a mask cause I want to be safe,” Iyer said on COVID-19 related concerns. “Also, I hope the University enforces strict testing.”
Patel resonated with the thought as he expressed confidence in the University’s ability to control the virus.
“Testing needs to be a requirement 100% and the University should strongly enforce it,” Patel said.
Both were of the opinion that the University should extensively advertise vaccines and encourage all of the student body to take it.
“I am so excited, hopeful and energized to be back in the classroom,” Stelzer said as he prepares to transition Physics 212: Electricity and Magnetism to in-person course delivery. Stelzer expressed his confidence in the students to adhere to the guidelines but emphasized the need to mandate vaccines for students enrolled in in-person classes to avoid any outbreak.
With inquisitiveness surrounding exams in fall 2021 rising, Stelzer said, “I hope that they are pen and paper exams as that’s the best way,” but expressed his inability to confirm anything yet.
Further, to reassure students who are unable to return to campus or are faced with any difficulty, Stelzer stated, “The professors are willing to go to any extent to help students succeed and we do understand the situation you are in.”
As classes move to in person, students will have a chance to meet their academic advisers face to face.
“Our doors will be open for the first time in eight months,” said Robert Steltman, executive assistant dean of LAS.
Steltman said that one of the many things the pandemic disrupted was academic advising. He stated that advisers worked round the clock last March to accommodate all queries which were raised by the unwanted change and continue to work long hours to assure students the help and assistance they need.
Relating to student’s willingness to switch to in-person instruction, Steltman said, “Anytime we are forced to change, we change, as by nature we want to feel good about the situation we are in and we want to make progress.”
Steltman further elaborated that he has had students come up and ask whether fall will have online classes cause they did fairly well in that format and has also had students come and ask to take an entire in-person course load. Steltman believes that the one fits all mentality rarely works and hence is confident that the flexibility the students have this fall will help them succeed and reiterates that his department will assist students in any way possible
Steltman put emphasis on two particular groups LAS is working very closely with.
“Most sophomores have never been to campus and didn’t have an orientation so we are planning one to get them accustomed to campus life,” Steltman said.
He also added that the college is working closely with international students and International Student and Scholar Services to ensure any visa-related/course-related support to them.
On health-related concerns, Steltman said that the “University and colleges consider student health foremost and will follow all CDC guidelines to ensure the health and safety of students in fall 2021.”

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