By Shemiza Basdeo
Heading back to school in the wake of the COVID pandemic has been a rollercoaster of emotions for people who work in school settings. At York College, several students and faculty members have mixed feelings about the return of in-person classes since the pandemic is still ongoing.
Many students explained that they had gotten used to online classes and the flexibility it gave them, so when they were required to attend in-person classes, it was a struggle and a drastic change.
One student, Diamond Jacobs, explained how she preferred hybrid classes because she learns better in person, but she also needs the flexibility because of her work schedule. She indicated that at this moment, she feels comfortable with her in-person classes, but the only thing that serves as a challenge for her is juggling school as well as her job requirements. Jacobs said that she appreciated the Welcome Center in the Academic Core building as it helps inform students who may need help navigating the school and gaining internet access. This is something she believed improved since the pandemic as it wasn’t so accessible before.
One thing that York College needs to improve is its Wi-Fi connection. Jacobs revealed that it is sometimes a struggle for her to use her laptop in school to complete assignments due to poor connection.
On the other hand, Veronica Paulino, another student, does not mind the move from online to in-person classes. For her, the online format was a bit strange and weird. Paulino also talked about her struggles in online courses due to not having steady internet access. She prefers working in person and is happy that all the classes she is taking this semester are in-person. She believes she can concentrate better and work collaboratively with her peers.
Paulino said the one thing that has improved is the library. According to her, there were long lines to print assignments or readings for classes in the past. But now it is more structured, so when she goes in to print something, it is usually faster than before.
Paulino also believes that the internet connection in the college needs to be improved.
Jillian Abbott, an adjunct professor, said she has some concerns about in-person classes mainly because of her students and their responsibilities. She explained that many students are dealing with excruciating circumstances that prevent them from making it to class. This negatively impacts them in terms of having to drop a course or failing the course.
She said that CUNY needs to improve by still implementing the online format to accommodate many students who are struggling to balance their schedules. Abbott stressed that students should not have to fail, drop out of a course, or delay their graduation simply because they cannot go to the classes in person. She claimed it to be unfair and unethical because the school system should be able to help students despite challenges.
Lindamichelle Baron, a professor in the department of Teacher Education, said she was very excited about the return of in-person classes. Baron said that creating a caring and safe community in her classroom is what she strives for as an educator. And she feels that the best way she can do that is through in person.
However, Baron and Abbott shared the same concerns about students favoring the online format for classes as it gives them flexibility when they have excruciating circumstances. They are more concerned that their students have a balanced schedule rather than be torn over by school and other responsibilities.
Students and faculty members expressed that they feel safe in person if they and the individuals around them wear a mask. They also felt safe and comfortable because most students and faculty members are vaccinated.
All in all, most students and faculty members in York are satisfied and content to be back in person as it gives them the chance to be social, work collaboratively, and be free from distractions. But some would prefer online courses because it allowed for flexibility in their schedules.