Nadia Ahmed-Student Journalist
Whispers have been circulating that Rutgers will be reopening for the fall 2021 semester. Students and faculty are excited about the prospect of once again attending school in person. Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, sent out an email on Jan. 27 stating that, “increasing mobilization of Rutgers’ own expertise and public health capacities, and rapid implementation of the Biden administration’s national strategy for managing COVID-19, give a reason for optimism on the horizon.”
Immediately following the email, students spread the news and celebrated the possibility of attending next semester in-person. They were eager to make memories outside of the confines of a Zoom chat. Rutgers prioritizes safety and may change course if the virus resurges, but students have good reason to be optimistic. Khushi Kadiwar, a freshman at Rutgers University Business School, said she is excited about returning to campus but that safety remains her top concern. “If enough people are vaccinated and covid cases have significantly gone down, with precautions still being taken-it’s a good idea because students will get a better education for the money they’re paying,” she said. Many students share Khushi’s outlook. Ria Karangutkar, a Rutgers Arts and Sciences major, said “I look forward to school being in-person even if there are strict rules to be followed, as it is important to keep health first.”
Rutgers University-Newark will implement a 3-component model to protect students and staff, model comprises an in-person learning segment, a remote learning segment, and a hybrid segment. Models will be assigned based on class size.
Professors are just as eager as students to resume in-person classes. “I feel excited about teaching lab in person while students actually do the experiments…I feel excited to chat with students in my office. I even feel excited about writing on the whiteboard,” said Dr. Chaffee, an associate teaching professor at Rutgers-Newark. Students and teachers both
long for want the intimacy that in-person learning provides.
When asked about how easily the school will transition back into in-person learning, Dr. Balog, Professor in the Rutgers-Newark Philosophy department and a member of the Graduate Faculty in the Philosophy Department at Rutgers-New Brunswick, said, “I don’t think it will be a problem…in-person interaction will make it easier to have discussions.”
Dr. Austin, the chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies and a Professor at Rutgers-Newark, is likewise optimistic. “I’m really looking forward to it. I feel very comfortable in the classroom. I’m hoping that I can use some of the experience that I’ve gotten over the past few semesters to keep some aspects of the classes online,” she said, adding that the transition to all electronic assignments has been much better, frankly.” Educators have become well acquainted with the online method of teaching and will be bringing some aspects of it back to campus. Online learning has opened the doors to methods of teaching that were undiscovered or underutilized prior to COVID-19.
“I learned some techniques, created some assignments that I have not used before and I will definitely continue using them because they work quite well.” said Professor Balog. “I just can’t wait… it’s doable, survivable, to do it online, but it’s not the real thing. Studying, like most human activities, is a communal activity.”