On the morning of March 11, 2020, I was in one of my journalism classes, waiting for the professor to arrive, when I received the email announcing that Long Beach State would be suspending on-campus classes.
When I first read that email, I felt relieved. COVID-19 cases were rapidly increasing, as was my fear of contracting it. The suspension of in-person classes meant that I wouldn’t risk daily exposure to students, who could unknowingly be carrying COVID-19.
It’s now been a year since we transitioned to alternative instruction, and while the situation has somewhat improved, fears and concerns over the coronavirus are just as prevalent.
Last month when I received the email indicating my registration date for the upcoming fall semester, I felt a wave of anxiety instead of the usual feeling of excitement course through me.
Because after a whole year of learning and communicating through Zoom, in-person classes are making a return.
When President Jane Conoley announced that 47% of classes would be returning to in-person instruction for the fall semester, I immediately thought of all the things that could go wrong if I do decide to return.
What if someone is asymptomatic and unknowingly spreads the virus? What if someone refuses to wear a mask? What if I decide to go back next semester and end up getting COVID, after all this time of being so careful?
Just the thought of returning to campus and being surrounded by a swarm of students, causes me great stress and elevates my fear of contagion.
However, I am well aware that Long Beach State is doing everything they can to ensure a safe return, by implementing necessary social distancing rules and increasing cleaning throughout the facilities.
These plans have helped put me at ease and have also made it easier for me to consider returning to in-person classes in the fall.
For the past few weeks, I have been weighing my options: Should I return to campus right away? Or should I wait until the spring semester, when in-person instruction fully returns?
For many other students, the decision may not have been all that difficult.
This past year of remote learning has not, by any means, been an easy feat. Students have faced several challenges online ranging from technical issues, to the inability to form stable relationships, the lack of personal space in family homes and getting low grades. According to a report by the Washington Post, more students than ever received F’s in the first half of the 2020-2021 school year.
For those reasons and more, the news of returning to campus in the fall and learning in a classroom instead of through a screen, may be incredibly relieving for many. However, I can’t help but let my fears and anxiety prevent me from being fully on board with the idea of returning right away.
I am still terrified of getting COVID-19, and I still worry about people refusing to wear masks. But my most pressing concern at the moment is that I am still unvaccinated. And although it was announced that CSULB won’t require vaccination for the fall semester, I most definitely plan on getting mine as soon as possible.
Because of specific eligibility requirements in California, I had not been able to get vaccinated. But as of April 16, all Californians aged 16 and older became eligible for the vaccine. However, due to limited appointments and availability, it’s hard to figure out if I’ll be able to get vaccinated anytime soon.
After some consideration, I realized that as a senior who wants to graduate on time, returning to campus in the fall may be inevitable. While I wish I could stay completely online for another semester, a few of the classes I am interested in taking are offered only through face-to-face or hybrid instruction.
It would be very beneficial if all courses had both online and in-person options available for those who aren’t ready to return in the fall. However, I do understand that it is challenging for some classes, such as labs and recreational courses, to function fully online. For that reason, I accept that hybrid classes are perhaps the best possible solution.
Despite my obvious concerns, I do miss being on campus, learning face-to-face in a classroom and being able to connect with professors and classmates. I’m also looking forward to spending some quiet time in the library, where I won’t be interrupted by the loudness of my home.
I have not been directly on campus since March 11, but I know the next time I step foot on campus, masked and staying six-feet away, it will be a completely different scene.