Jacqueline Flores/Contributing Writer
Read “We Need to Return to Virtual” by Nathan Nayor here.
It’s a brand new year and the beginning of the spring semester. This new year will also mark two years since the pandemic started and when FIU went completely virtual. A lot of us had trouble transitioning and were ecstatic to return to campus for the first time in the Fall of 2021. Now with the Omicron variant and cases rising once again, big surprise there, the University of Miami is going virtual for the spring of 2022. Does this mean FIU might consider going virtual as well? FIU students and staff should be allowed to return to campus and remain in person.
By the end of spring in 2020, classes turned remote and several students, including myself, barely passed our classes. We petitioned to have FIU create pass or fail options for our classes as grades plummeted from us and our loved ones being sick.
I lost my uncle, my father’s brother. It was heartbreaking to see my grandmother, sick from the same virus that took my uncle, realize she outlived her son.
I also lost my summer internship in Washington DC. Along with a virtual experience with a supervisor that ghosted me halfway through. Yeah, I was barely able to focus on my virtual classes during this time.
With all that was going on with our lives in the year of 2020, how could any of us focus on those Zoom lectures without falling asleep? The anxiety from listening to the news about Covid-19, worrying about ourselves and loved ones, and wondering how long things will last prevented us from being able to focus on assignments
It felt like the world was falling apart.
We felt like we were just completing assignments for a grade and barely learning anything. The engagement that came from participating in class discussions was absent when tuning into a screen. Bedrooms are meant for sleeping and living rooms for relaxing. Using them as our work areas did little for productivity.
Many students lost their freshman years and others lost their senior years. Even sophomores and juniors felt like they took gap years. In my classes, we valued being in class and understood how to be safe in order to keep the privilege of learning in-person. After coming back to campus, people really only complained about the commute to campus. Seems like a decent trade-off after spending over a year online without the true college experience.
If we go virtual, then the experience of being in person during the fall semester was just a tease. Here’s the thing though, only FIU would have us go back to being virtual. People will still go to their work, go to grocery and retail stores, eat at restaurants, and enjoy the nightlife that is the city of Miami. Neither Miami-Dade or Broward are not going into a lockdown any time soon.
If we do not get sick from being on campus, where most young folk and faculty follow the mask regulations and are most likely vaccinated, then who’s to say it won’t happen at work, a grocery store or restaurant? I am more likely to believe the student next to me in class around my age with the mask on is vaccinated, than the older strangers very close behind me in the grocery store without a mask on.
The difference between now and two years ago is the vaccine. Along with our learned lessons on how to live with long-term regulations. Getting tested when we can, and being vaccinated is all about doing our part for a healthy community,
I am not dismissing the severity of the pandemic nor am I advocating to ignore it. Obviously, we must all be vaccinated with our booster shots and following mask regulations. The excitement I had for returning to school in person after over a year along with my peers was pure and genuine. I interviewed other students from a previous piece about their opinions and experiences and found most of them were glad to return to campus as well.
We should choose to remain on campus, and have an option to become virtual or not. If the commute is too much, or being on campus is nerve wracking, then online classes are still an option. The college experience of seeing our classmates, attending events, creating proper engagement, studying in a library with a cafecito and simply walking on campus can not be replaced by a screen.
If it means we have to wear a mask everywhere we go to be in person, then I will pick that option over anything else.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community
Photo by Javier Trueba on Unsplash