UW students react to postponed in-person learning

Graphic by Sarah Morassutti

After nearly two years of online learning, UW students were expecting an in-person return starting Jan. 5. That was until an announcement from UW stated that in-person courses would be delayed until Jan. 27 as a preemptive response to the surge of COVID-19 cases linked to the Omicron variant. 

While some students expressed their disappointment with the extended online-learning period, others were pleased with the decision. 

“At first, [I] was a bit disappointed as [I] was looking forward to finally having in-person classes, but obviously with everything going on, there isn’t much us or the university can do,” Simran Dhillon, 3A management engineering, said. 

Dhillon noted how online learning is a great option for students who have contracted COVID-19 to continue their learning virtually without missing any classes. She also mentioned that both systems of learning have their respective benefits. 

“In-person I feel there is more exposure and you can easily ask your classmates for any questions during a lecture. Online classes give you the opportunity to learn at your own pace and in case you fall behind you have all the material, with recorded lectures uploaded online.” Dhillon said. 

On the other hand, some students see more drawbacks to online school, from finding it harder to communicate with teachers and classmates to having limited access to essential learning resources. 

“The first month of school being online makes me feel as if the constant cycle of online classes due to the pandemic is repeating once again. In the first month of school you usually have access to many resources and face-to-face time with professors and other students and being online means missing out on those opportunities,” Habiba Zafar, 3A biology and business, said. 

Zafar mentioned that a big challenge with online learning is a lack of motivation. Physical class and university settings create a sense of accountability and encourage motivation when students see their peers working around them to their best, Zafar said. 

Another major disadvantage of online learning is its impact on mental health and well-being. With less face-to-face interaction, it can be difficult to feel connected with the campus community. 

“One of the biggest challenges I feel like I’ve faced during remote learning is the lack of communication and feeling of community. Even if you’re in synchronous lectures with your camera on, everything is through a screen and you don’t get that same sense of connection with your friends, classmates and instructors as you do with in-person classes,” Claire Shen, 3A applied health sciences, said. 

Shen also offered a solution that has personally helped her maintain a sense of community while learning remotely — reaching out to classmates through group chats, emailing professors and making sure to keep communication constant.   

For some, the challenge with online learning comes with creating their own schedule, balancing school, work and a personal life during a pandemic. 

“Online learning sure has its challenges, for me it’s trying to structure my day so that I get all of my lessons done but still have time to do other things. Depending on the course/prof the organisation of the materials is not always easy to follow along with,” Landyn Gesic, 3B math and administration, said. 

While the pandemic has created many challenges, especially those concerning quality and delivery of learning, UW encourages us to use this time to rest, rejuvenate, reflect. 

“We will continue to work closely with public health officials over the winter break and if these temporary measures for the winter term need to be changed or be extended, we will let you know as soon as possible,” Vivek Goel, President and Vice-Chancellor UW, and James W.E. Rush, Vice-President, Academic and Provost, said in a notice sent to undergraduate students regarding an online Winter term on Dec. 16.