Winter Weather Affects Return to In-Person Classes
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has returned to the hybrid in-person/Zoom learning experience that went on during the fall semester this past week after nearly one month of remote-only learning to start the new spring semester.
Nature may have had inconvenient timing though, as the Penn State area was buffeted with snow and rain for much of the week, resulting in class cancellations and slick road conditions.
This has come to reinforce one of the benefits of the Zoom format, as students have been able to continue with their lessons without pause from external forces such as the weather.
In past years, students would have to bundle up to trek to class but one of the pros, as Joe Banzhoff explains, “You just don’t have to leave your room.”
Banzhoff, a junior majoring in economics, had two in-person classes with one ending up cancelled.
Weather is far from the only factor, however, as many students, such as Payton DuLong, worry about potentially contracting COVID as more people return to campus.
“I just prefer straight Zoom classes; it just makes it easier not having to worry about even getting COVID from going on campus,” said DuLong, a junior majoring in cyber security. “But without the pandemic 100% in person, I just learn better actually in the classroom.”
DuLong is far from the only student to express this sentiment, as in-person classes represent a sense of connection absent from the Zoom format. One of the downsides of convenience seems to be a sense of malaise among students.
“I think motivation is a huge factor, and I think everyone experienced that,” Anton O’Malley said. “I will say especially for any STEM major, online learning is much more difficult than in-person learning would be."
O’Malley, a junior majoring in aerospace engineering, does not have any in-person classes this semester yet was far more favorable of the benefits of in-person learning.
There’s been cause for optimism though, as the campus opening back up and clubs returning to their activities has restored a small sense of normalcy that’s been missing since the start of the spring semester.
Even with COVID restrictions, Banzhoff expressed joy in the changes that he’s seen since the return of fellow classmates.
“At times, there’s quite a lot of people outside on campus, even before the February day that Penn State picked [to start in-person learning],” Banzhoff said. “But I like that more buildings are opening up. I think more people are going out and about.”
Penn State will monitor COVID rates closely, but the feeling amongst many has been that of cautious optimism. In the meantime, many Penn State students look forward to reuniting with friends while being mindful of social restrictions.
Eric McGinty is a junior majoring in film production. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.