Opinion: Student feelings about returning to (mostly) in-person classes this fall.

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Sam Rush/NW

“There have been more than 6,600 coronavirus cases linked to American universities at this point, and the spread will not stop unless everyone works together to keep each other healthy. We simply cannot do this while attending university in-person, even though we are testing each student. Students moving into residence halls are to proceed to the move-in process directly after testing, before they even receive results, meaning on-campus students who test positive will risk spreading the virus to other students before even knowing they have it. Yes, by requiring testing and adding new processes, NMU is doing their best to lower the risk of spread, but that’s all it does—lower the risk. A risk that would not be there if classes were held online. A risk that NMU aimed to avoid in March by going online, but it feels as though Northern no longer has that safety in mind, especially when there are more COVID-19 cases now than there were when we made the initial switch to distance learning.” 

—Kortney Manchip, Senior Theatre and Entertainment Arts major

“It’s safe to say that nobody was prepared for a global pandemic of this caliber. We walk into stores where masks are mandatory. We walk by billboards and store signs that show off models with face coverings and witty t-shirts that read ‘I Was Social Distancing Before It Was Cool.’ It’s rather dystopian, for sure, and we as students are doing the best we can to cope with what the world is throwing at us. School has become a safe haven for students, and the fact that NMU is reopening during the pandemic is, to me, a blessing. We are able to go out in the streets, we are able to go into shops and stores so long as we carry cloth over our faces. NMU is taking more precautions with their classrooms than most grocery stores. With free covid testing, school masks, and spaces between each student in the classroom, they’re being as careful as anyone can be right now. If the world is going to open up public parks and swimming pools, there is no reason to put education on hold where the environment is going to be much more controlled.”

—Noah Mac Dow, 

“I’m a transfer student from Stockholm, Sweden. For me, the decision to return to mostly in-person classes was extremely important. After in person classes were confirmed, I didn’t need to worry about if I could come back to the US or not. When entering the country the part of my student visa confirming NMU’s return to in-person classes was very important, if not the actual reason, I got into the country. Also, the mandatory testing at NMU is very good according to me. It feels safer for me to get back to campus knowing that I don’t have COVID, since I have traveled which of course is an increased risk. From my perspective, it feels like NMU has taken necessary and good precautions considering the students safety. Despite the precautions, I think I will be more restrictive with my socializing this semester, and if not absolutely necessary avoid being around big groups of people. That is our way of action in my home country, and I will continue to pursue that here.”

—Malin Boerjesjoe, Senior Mathematics major

“NMU’s decision to return to mostly in-person classes is overwhelming. I am noticing a lot of my peers developing a massive sense of anxiety about not only the upcoming semester, but the fate of the world as we know it. However, I am seeing even more of my peers being discourteous and disrespectful about the procedures that society needs to take in order to flatten the curve and keep each other safe. I believe that many of my peers’ carelessness about mask-wearing, hand-washing, and especially social distancing comes from our leaders and institutions denying the significance of the virus and its spread by trying to push the limits. As a student, I feel like I’m a part of a big experiment that I never wanted to be a part of. We are all on this wave of uncertainty, and it’s not fair to assume that students and professors want to push the limits and resume in-person classes and events, even if they are set up in a different way than before.

“In a little over a week, NMU students, including myself, will be back in class for the fall semester…in the middle of a global pandemic. Every student I have spoken to has expressed some type of worry regarding the return to in-person classes, and every recent graduate has expressed how grateful they are that they ‘got out when [they] did.’ I am proud to be a student of NMU’s theatre and dance department. The last four months have assured me that, with our faculty’s creativity, there is very little that we cannot find a solution for. So, while I have the utmost faith in my department (and my university) to handle the obstacles that are sure to present themselves as we pioneer the coming semester, the psychological ramifications of returning to in-person classes are already taking their toll. Recently, an email was sent out to students alerting them that there had been a positive case of COVID-19 on campus. However, that email only reached a certain number of us. I’m going to call this what it is: a transparency issue. All of our students deserve to know what’s happening on their campus, regardless of whether or not they lived on campus over the summer; regardless of whether or not they took summer courses. If we are to know that issues are being handled, and I’m sure they are, then we need to know that there are issues. Now more than ever, our university has a duty to keep students informed.”

—Kate Karling, Senior Theatre and Entertainment Arts major

“While I was driving with my fiance, we were discussing how I will most likely be able to do remote learning this fall semester. We discussed my pregnancy and I mentioned how it’s scary to think that if I wasn’t pregnant, I would have no choice but to attend my classes in person, possibly putting my 10-month-old daughter at risk. Without my pregnancy, I do not have a disability and I am not high-risk for any underlying health conditions. The only reason I have decided to stay enrolled in this semester is because of my large overage check. Being that I am extremely poor, especially during a pandemic, money has become a very big motivator. I do not agree with NMU’s decision to return to mostly in-person classes. I do not feel they are prepared, which makes me wonder how they expect students to feel safe in such an uncertain time. I believe their decision is forcing a lot of students, faculty, and staff into dangerous situations. I’m really uneasy about the thought that if I wasn’t pregnant, I would be forced to attend classes in person. Overall, I do not feel that this semester will last long as it is because of how unprepared NMU is. I believe many of the incoming freshmen are looking forward to their first year at college, as most first-year students are, and they will try to engage in house parties and the like to get the full experience. This, in turn, will probably be the cause of most COVID-19 cases on campus and the disease will spread quickly in classrooms and academic buildings.”

—Izzy Hill, Sophomore Criminal Justice major