Welcome Back: Students Reflect on the Start of the Fall Semester
By Will Torres
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the majority of the Adelphi student body, faculty and administration had hoped that the Covid-19 pandemic would be behind us and we would be back to a completely in-person teaching environment last fall, or in other words: back to normal. Over the course of the past year and a half, we have come to see how some students can excel in an online learning environment while also finding a healthy balance between their studies and their social lives. However, online learning was a struggle for some students as they continuously searched for effective strategies to adapt to online learning.
Junior Kelly Andreuzzi, an environmental science major, felt that the completely virtual learning environment was “isolating” and it became “easy to feel completely alone.” She said, “Being in-person allows me to focus more on lectures and reading better than at home. During the past year I found it easy to get distracted while at home.”
Flash forward to this semester while we are transitioning to a HyFlex educational model, a mix of synchronous and asynchronous online learning and in-person classes. For most courses, this gives instructors the opportunity to teach their class in person, having some students attend in-class lectures while others join using Zoom, a live video conferencing software.
Students like Jarred Navarro, a first-year mathematics major, remembered how surreal it was sitting in front of a computer screen and waiting for classes to begin during the pandemic. He said he doesn’t mind the HyFlex setting of this semester.
“I’m very glad that we are fortunate enough to be able to spend time on campus, and that we can meet our professors in person as opposed to straining our eyes to make out their faces through a small grainy box on the computer. Although it isn't perfect, I can confidently say it has been one of the best first days of school I have ever experienced, and I wouldn't change it for anything,” he said.
To help students adjust, from Sept. 21-23, the Center for Student and Community Engagement (SCE) will host an event called Pantherpalooza, which welcomes all student organizations to participate in promoting their clubs. Originally scheduled for in person during orientation, this three-day event will give students access to clubs to have the opportunity to socialize and engage in activities that they enjoy. Something which, when done online, is harder for organizations that relied on in-person meetings and activities.
Covid-19 and the Delta variant, however, still remain a health risk for us all, and each individual's comfort with the reality of the pandemic can affect students from attending club activities.
Andrew Velasquez-Berroteran, a senior mathematics student and the president of Adelphi's American Mathematical Society (AMS) chapter, believes that conducting their meetings virtually is the best choice in respect for his club’s members safety and for the ease of attendance. “If the club were to conduct any in-person meetings, it would be a challenge to find an appropriate room that is spacious enough so whoever is in attendance won't be in too close proximity with another attendee.”
In an email interview Gene Palma, the vice president of University Wellness, Safety and Administration, stated, “The health and safety of Adelphi’s students, staff and faculty, are of the utmost importance. I am pleased to announce that 87% of our student population is in compliance with our vaccination policy—including 98% of our resident student population.”
Reflecting on the 19 months, Palma agreed that many people have been battling with the stress, uncertainty and fear that comes with a global pandemic. He said he plans to host an event that provides students with “the opportunity to learn about how best to care for yourself and the people around you, how to recognize when to reach out for help and what resources are available to you.”
With the Delta variant looming, it's safe to say that this semester being largely in person can cause uncertainy, but students are hopeful they'll persevere as they're confident in themselves and in Adelphi’s Covid guidelines.
Palma noted, “We look forward to a vibrant and fulfilling fall semester. Attention to precautionary measures and mental health awareness will be key to our community’s success.”
Incoming students showing Panther Pride following the 2021 New Student Orientation. Photo courtesy of Adelphi University’s website