The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

SSU ready for in-person instruction?

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On Dec. 9, 2020, California State University sent out a press release announcing an expected return to in-person instruction for the fall of the 2021 school year. In high spirits, CSU Chancellor-select Joseph I. Castro said, “We are approaching planning for the 2021 fall term with the goal of having the majority of our on-campus experiences returning.” This vague statement is the only viable source of information all CSU students have to reference. CSU has 486,000 students who can and will be affected in a multitude of ways by the future of this choice, depending on their proximity to campus, as well as other factors throughout this unprecedented time. 

COURTESY // Here Be Dragons

COURTESY // Here Be Dragons

Because of the varying opinions surrounding the willingness of students and teachers to return, when asking faculty members how comfortable they would be with teaching in-person courses in the fall of 2021, professor Thomas Limbert, Assistant Director of the music department, shared his experience. He stated, “I would feel comfortable returning, I have talked to other colleagues who have had positive experiences using strict PPE, cleaning procedures, and ventilation systems, and their students were able to remain safe.” He adds that the reassurance of a vaccine requirement would make him more comfortable to return as well. Professor Limbert positively reported that as far as discussions go, he has seen more people being involved virtually than he has seen in the past with regular instruction. “As far as the performance aspect goes, there is a challenge there, Limbert says “you just can’t do that online,” he said. 

Talena Sanders, assistant professor of communication and media studies, expressed some concern. She expressed, “At this point, I do not feel comfortable returning to teach in person unless everyone is required to have the vaccine.” On the other hand, Professor Sanders also mentioned that she misses the interactions that occurred on campus. “The conversations  I had with students in between classes were very personable, different from zoom which can feel awkward.” She further spoke about how she is eager for everyone to have access to the newly renovated Media Innovation Lab, where students will be able to access new sound and video equipment.

As of now, the most updated information from the CDC tells us that the lowest risk of the spread is from strictly virtual learning as the risk of spread increases as the exposure of people within a university grows. Many experts believe the U.S. is far away from requiring a vaccine, but certain private organizations, like schools, may impose their own regulations that students can choose to follow. 

Ross Silverman, a professor of public health at Indiana University says “The best strategic approach to promote vaccination is to maximize communication and minimize barriers.” If schools can aid their students in accessing the vaccine in appropriate ways, this will only help the population and the development of herd immunity. The new normal has become primarily online instruction and one can appreciate many of its benefits and pathways of access around the world. This time is proving that innovation and creativity are great problem solvers but many are anxious of a rush back too soon, for too many people. This could lead to a different set of problems than the ones it began with. 

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