Opinion: Students need in-person learning


Photo courtesy of Getty Images. Students wearing protective face masks study inside of the Thompson Library at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

The pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, from wearing masks to having curfews. On March 16, 2020, schools in Riverside County were ordered to cancel all in-person classes as COVID-19 cases increased.

For many, the thought of having school at home seemed relaxing, but as the months went by, it became apparent that online classes were far more difficult than expected.

As classes quickly transitioned from in-person to online, some students faced difficulties as they did not have the necessary tools at home to succeed. According to sciencedaily.com, “Nearly all of the students at Indiana University had laptops and smartphones, but roughly 20 percent had problems maintaining access to effective technology. They had to type papers on old laptops or tablets that didn’t always work. Their devices wouldn’t hold a charge. They lived in off-campus apartments without reliable internet access. They ran out of cell phone data and couldn’t afford to add minutes.”

Many students faced these issues, even students at College of the Desert. COD allowed its students to use the school’s Wi-Fi. They could park on campus in designated areas, so they could be online. The school also allowed students to receive a laptop if needed.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported that during the Fall 2020 semester, the two-year institution’s enrollment dropped by over 10%, and first-time enrollment dropped by over 13%. College of the Desert also experienced a decrease in enrollment numbers during the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters.

As students shifted to classes online, it became clear that mental health for most was going to be a struggle. In a research article to collect the effects of COVID-19 on college student’s mental health by Matthew H. E. M. Browning and many others, they concluded that the top four psychological impacts are lack of motivation, anxiety, stress and isolation.

Many changes would need to be made to allow for a majority of classes to have in-person lectures. Currently, many classes would be declared unsafe as students would be within six feet of each other. The CDC recommends that people stay six feet apart to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

College of the Desert has more than 30 English 001A classes with at most 24 students making it difficult to space students out.

A possible solution is that the students who have access to strong Wi-Fi connections and computers or laptops to continue to learn from home, allowing students who need supplies and technology to return.

Often science and math classes are seen as some of the most difficult classes for any student. For most students, these classes are important to have in-person so studentscan ask questions, get one-on-one help and the necessary tools to succeed in the course. These classes would be most difficult for the school to regulate as most students would want to have in-person lectures.

As the production of vaccines rapidly increases, every adult will soon be eligible for vaccinations by May 1. Although it is unclear when everyone will be vaccinated, a possible solution for College of the Desert is allowing students who have been vaccinated before a given deadline to attend in-person lectures. The school could have a separate deadline each month to allow students who get after the first deadline to have the possibility of going to in-person lectures.

If some classes were to be in person, the most difficult thing for the school would be disinfecting and safety protocol checks. As students and faculty would be coming back to the campus during this time, it would be evident that things such as door handles, desks, mice and countless more things would be a place of possible transmission.

Countless students touch a door handle. A possible solution is to take the door handles off and have it opened by step and pull. Desk, computer and tools for classes could be the most difficult as it would be hard to clean every used keyboard and desk—the easiest way to have only two lectures per room each day to allow for significant disinfecting.

As students and faculty would need to enter the school, they could have temperature checks when they enter to reduce the chance of someone unintentionally entering with COVID. If a student cannot attend a class due to being positive of COVID-19, they should be allowed to attend via Zoom. Allowing students to use zoom for lectures would allow for minimal time missed.

The best way to minimalize personnel at schools is to use a hybrid format for every class. Many classes have both a lecture and a lab portion. It would be best if lectures were only online and have labs in-person to keep contact to a minimum but allow students to have access to the tools necessary during a lab.

Currently, the College of the Desert is unclear if classes will be returning during the fall. Students will know what and if classes are in person or a hybrid format when the schedule is released in May.