Students’ living plans may change with online classes

With most classes moving online post-Thanksgiving break, little foot traffic can be seen on campus. Lovejoy Library stands almost entirely empty on Nov. 30, the day classes resumed.

Given SIUE’s decision to move almost all previously in-person courses online after Fall Break, some students are deciding to finish their Fall 2020 semester at home instead of in university housing.

According to Assistant Registrar Maureen Bell-Werner, 130 courses were approved to meet in-person after the break by the Office of the Provost in the departments of Nursing, Teaching & Learning and Speech Language Pathology & Audiology. She said these were the departments that requested and received approval for certain courses they offer.

“The departments had to submit a rationale for why they needed to meet on-ground to the Provost’s Office, and the Provost’s Office either granted or denied those requests,” Bell-Werner said.

Given these changes, which eliminated most on-ground courses, many students were choosing to not come back to campus and University Housing sent out an intention form to determine which students were coming back to campus.

Director of University Housing Mallory Sidarous said 53 percent of residents will be remaining or coming back to campus following the end of Thanksgiving break based on these intention forms.

She said she gave an option to residents to reach out to University Housing if there were any changes to their intention form plans, but doesn’t anticipate a lot of deviation from the students’ original plans.

“I don’t anticipate we will see a ton of change,” Sidarous said. “I think we’re asking students to be able to make some decisions about their plans, but we know that can fluctuate and we also want to make sure people don’t feel like they don’t have the option, and so that’s why we’re making sure they know they can contact us if something is different for them.”

Most students who were in university housing in the Fall 2020 semester will be back for the Spring 2021 semester, according to Sidarous.

“The contract has not changed, so everybody has a housing contract that’s a fall-spring contract,” Sidarous said. “So unless they’re leaving the university, they’ll be back in the spring.”

Sidarous said while many students are staying home for the remainder of the semester to finish their online classes, she doesn’t believe this is necessarily an indication of what will be seen in the spring.

“There usually is some change between fall and spring, just if peoples’ situations change, and they no longer attend the university, but we are not anticipating any other than the normal change,” Sidarous said. “Right now this year’s unusual, so there’s students who are choosing to not come back and do their virtual instruction for the end of the semester at home, but we are not anticipating any other than the normal change,” Sidarous said. “Right now this year’s unusual, so there’s students who are choosing to not come back and do their virtual instruction for the end of the semester at home, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the spring.”

However, some students, such as sophomore elementary education major Alice Yerby from St. Louis, have decided to stay on campus despite most classes moving fully online.

“I guess my biggest reason is, my parents are working from home as well, and so I felt like I wouldn’t be productive with my schoolwork, especially with my final exams, I didn’t think I would be able to perform as well as if I were at school,” Yerby said.

Bell-Werner said they used the same process as they did for after Thanksgiving break to determine which classes would be in person during the Spring 2021 semester.

“The departments sort of got to decide how they wanted to offer their courses in the spring semester,” Bell-Werner said. “So they submitted their request through their Associate Deans, and their Associate Deans approved that and sent that to us in academic scheduling to schedule those.”

According to Bell-Werner, most of the courses approved to remain on ground are not traditional college classes.

“What’s happening is not that the faculty is necessarily teaching on-ground, it’s that those students are actually going out to those sites and doing work on-ground,” Bell-Werner said. “Those students are either going into the hospital setting and actually having that clinical experience, where if that’s not a possibility, because they are kind of at the mercy of the hospitals, the hospitals can say you can come or can’t come. [If not], they are doing simulations in their simulation labs so those students can continue to have those clinical experiences in a simulation environment instead of the hospitals.”

Bell-Werner said professors learned a lot from the Fall 2020 semester that allowed them to decide whether their courses can be taught fully online.

“I think there are some similarities between the numbers in the fall and the spring semester, but I think that the departments also did a good job of learning from their experiences of teaching in the fall, and then making some changes in the spring semester,” Bell-Werner said. “If they discovered that one format didn’t work for that particular course, then they’re teaching it in a different way in the spring semester, but really that was a decision made through the department level, and approved through the deans.”

Sidarous said despite all the new mitigations, Housing will still offer the same services they were offering before.

“We’re open, so we’re providing the same level of service at this as we would a normal time of the year,” Sidarous said. “Now there is new mitigation, and some of that new mitigation on campus is when offices may be open virtually versus in-person. We can’t have in-person programing, but that is directly related to the mitigations that are in place at the state level that we are implementing on our campus, and not related to the fact that it’s just the end of the semester.”

For more information, visit the SIUE Office of Registrar, University Housing and Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs websites.

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