PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY MOLLY SIMPSON / SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY
Zoom away from online Zoom learning as Laurier University returns to in-person classes for the Winter 2022 school term.
As of January 4, students will be re-introduced to a fully in-person school experience, allowing greatly desired live classes to begin for the term.
The coronavirus has been affecting Laurier classrooms since March of 2020 when students had to abandon their on-campus experience and move to virtual classrooms for the last school year and a half.
“I think it will be a new experience. We have people for two years who haven’t been in a formal classroom and I think we’ll have some growing pains, but I’m excited for that, because growing pains bring forward that opportunity to change things,” said Melissa DiLeo, associate director for student and community experience.
DiLeo believes there was a lack of personal connection while classes were based online. She believes it seems most students are excited to be back on campus in a live classroom and surrounded by their classmates, especially upper year students.
The changing school year leaves many students excited to experience real student life once more, including the social aspect of the return. The sense of student community and connection is focused throughout the vibrant downtown Brantford life and is anticipated and readily accepted among many students. Some students wish they had more time at school.
“Most of the adults I know met important people and made big decisions while at school and now I only have three months to do the same. People meet their future spouses, long time friends and future business partners,” said Ebosetalese Abure, fourth year digital media and journalism student.
Most classes will be returning to the full in-person experience, a learning style desired by many faculty members and students alike.
Lisa Wood, a Child and Youth as well as an English professor is excited to see her students once again, although a bit nervous for so many people to gather.
“I am very excited to be live again. There’s an energy in a real live classroom you can’t get on Zoom. You see people. They might be daydreaming, but I can see they’re there. It makes for a much more personal experience. I’m looking forward to seeing halls that are moderately crowded,” said Wood.
To start the school term, there will be an introductory event on January 3 for students of all ages held by the Laurier 101 and 102 program, a service to help connect new students to campus life. This event will include campus tours, event fairs, workshops through academic advising, a photobooth, giveaways and other events.
“We’re trying really hard to fill gaps due to the pandemic,” said DiLeo.
Laurier wants to integrate students, new and old alike, into a normalized campus atmosphere.
DiLeo doesn’t think students are nervous about being back on campus. The belief is everyone each student meets is double vaccinated. DiLeo states the health and safety ambassadors around campus are seeing many students who are already back on campus sitting close together, not worried about the virus. She believes this will be the same feeling in the coming term.
Starting in the Winter term, students will be able to sit side by side in class, opposed to the two seat social distance rule students have been abiding to throughout the 2021 Fall term.
While there may be some hybrid classes in the Winter term, most will be on campus. Students who are unable to receive their vaccine are able to apply for medical exemption should it be needed, or apply for an exemption based on other grounds.
For the students who have not received their COVID vaccine, or who do not plan to receive the vaccine, the deregistration process has already started; rapid testing options are available if an in-person experience is desired.
It is anticipated – as seen at the beginning of each school year when students come back on campus – that the downtown core will clean up and bring an air of happiness and life. The local eateries will be filled with chattering students and business will be buzzing once more.
Students are excited to be back on campus and have the sense of Laurier community they know. Coming back on campus means reunited friendships, connections with professors and active and engaging learning without isolation.
“Students want to be here, they want to be back on campus, they want that close-knit classroom experience, it’s something they’ve been missing and this will give them a chance to dive right back into being a student in a single opportunity,” said Wood.
“I miss my students, and I can’t wait to see their shining faces.”