By Leah Lavoie
As many of us would love to forget, Zoom replaced our classrooms for over a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Isolation, loneliness and a fear of missing out took up the time in our schedules that the hustle and bustle of a school routine once did.
Finally, in the spring of 2021, students were more than thrilled to return to a normal class routine despite restrictions including a mask mandate and socially-distanced seating. Although most individuals were pleased to put online Zoom classes behind them, online classes are still available for enrollment at Adelphi, posing the question should students still be allowed to take online classes now that the pandemic seems to be under control?
Professor Sophia Parisi, a licensed mental health counselor and psychotherapist who teaches an online Zoom course Introduction to Forensic Psychology, believes the option to take online courses should be available. As the owner of a private practice on Long Island, Parisi understands the implications that anxiety, depression and complex trauma can have on a student’s ability to attend in-person classes, especially after a stress-inducing pandemic. Keeping online courses a viable option for students increases enrollment from those who may have pressing responsibilities at home such as taking care of children or a sick relative.
“I have had the pleasure of working with bright students who were mentally affected by a loved one’s struggle with addiction and students who were caregivers to parents battling cancer and other illnesses,” she said.
Mental health can take a severe toll on one’s motivation to physically make it into a classroom, and it’s important to understand that all individuals reserve the right to further their education despite the challenges they’re facing at home. For these reasons, online classes should remain an option for students who may not have the mental or physical resources to travel to campus to attend an in-person class.
It’s also important to assess why universities may respond differently to online classes. For many individuals, there is a belief that online classes promote a lack of effort or engagement in the course material. However, Parisi explained that this has never been an issue in her online meetings.
“[With online classes], students are given a safe space to discuss related topics, personal stories, connect with one another, ask questions and express their thoughts and feelings,” she said.
To ensure a productive learning environment, students engage in break-out meetings, mindfulness exercises and weekly student check-ins. As long as a student is putting effort into the course material, they are more than guaranteed to gain something from an online class. Online classes also ensure the safety of student’s health as concerns for Covid are back on the rise. By allowing students to attend class remotely, universities are acknowledging the importance of our community's health and aid in the prevention of another lockdown.
“Online classes allow students who have fallen ill during the semester to attend class remotely while reducing the risk of infection on campus,” Parisi said. “Moreover, this way of learning helps those students who hold multiple jobs and/or are involved in campus sports.”
Online classes can be extremely beneficial for students who may have other responsibilities or personal struggles. Those who may not have resources such as the ability to afford travel or daycare expenses are still able to further their education with online classes just as much as they would if they were attending those classes in person. As a result, online classes are proven to be just as effective as those meeting on campus.