The semester has started and campus is bustling with students moving to and from classes once again. But not all classes this semester are in person, and not all students live on campus.
About 60% of students, in fact, live somewhere off campus and more than 200 classes are online so far this fall. Due to this mix of in-person and online classes, some students are struggling to make it to class and participate effectively.
What should a student do if they have an online class followed by an in-person class? Students who live in dorms can move from their dorm rooms to the classroom without worry. What about commuting students? Should they have class in the silent library? Or participate in class from a busy dining hall?
We at The Review believe that all students should be given an equal opportunity to succeed academically. The university needs to prioritize creating a safe, quiet place on campus for students to be able to take their classes. Not only would this benefit commuting students, who may not have another place to work from, but it could also benefit students who may be uncomfortable with meeting in-person due to the recent spike in COVID-19 positive cases.
On Sept. 8, there were 105 new positive cases of COVID-19, which prompted an email from Vice President Jose-Luis Riera and Dr. Timothy Dowling, warning students that “most UD students living on-campus who test positive should expect to isolate at their permanent home residence” and that “limited on-campus isolation spaces will be reserved for those students who do not have the option to return to their permanent home residences.”
While this issue balancing in-person meeting schedules with online ones affects commuting students the most right now, the university needs to be prepared in case of a larger COVID-19 surge or possible shutdown. Though the university warns of sending most students home if they test positive, not everyone will be able to leave campus, and those students must be accommodated for.
There are already spaces available such as group study rooms in the library for students to sign up to use, but they are not targeted towards individuals. Areas in student centers, Morris Library or unused classrooms could be transitioned into socially distanced desk spaces for students to work and participate in their online classes.
With online classes becoming more widely available, it would benefit the university and its students in the long run to already have these spaces set up. There’s no telling what format classes may be needed in the future, and the university should take the initiative to be prepared to support its students.
The Review’s weekly editorials are written to reflect the majority opinion of The Review’s staff. This week’s editorial was written by Simon Glover, executive editor. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.