Students react to online spring semester

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the California State University system has elected to continue with virtual instruction for the spring term making the 2020-2021 academic year entirely online, a decision that as sparked reaction among Cal Poly Pomona students.

“This decision is the only responsible one available to us at this time,” stated CSU Chancellor Timothy White in a CSU announcement. “And it is the only one that supports our twin North Stars of safeguarding the health, safety and well-being of our faculty, staff, students and communities, as well as enabling degree progression for the largest number of students.”

The Cal Poly community have mixed opinions regarding the decision.

“I was really upset when I first found out about the news, but you know after a cool while, I came to realize the (COVID-19) situation is still uncertain,” said Jonathan Rosas. Rosas, a second-year computer engineering student, had his plans altered when campus shut down back in March. “Before the whole situation hit, I was trying to pursue a leadership position for a club called Hermanos Unidos and I was really looking forward to going to all the meetings … and interacting with all the members,” said Rosas.

Although students like Rosas are not permitted on campus, some students were granted access to attend in-person classes that could not be taught through remote learning.
Jenna Livingston, a third-year animal science major, is one of those students who has access to attend lectures on campus.

“I got lucky that one of my classes is in-person,” said Livingston. “I do better in-person. There’s (classes) where you need hands-on learning.”

Like Rosas, Livingston understands the reasoning behind White’s decision.

“I mean it sucks but they’re just trying to keep us safe,” said Livingston. “Right now, we haven’t even got back and there’s people throwing parties.”

Livingston is referring to an off-campus sorority party that led to nine CPP students testing positive for COVID-19. Until it is deemed safe for campus to reopen, students like Livingston will be the only ones to have access to the classroom setting, while others miss out.

Emily Young, a fourth-year biology student, feels cheated out of the college experience.

“There’s a lot of things I had hoped to do this year before I graduate with the clubs I had joined and also with the friends I’ve made over the year,” said Young. “I feel like since classes got moved to online, I wasn’t able to see the people I normally would or learn in a classroom setting which is a lot more helpful than over a computer.”

While White’s announcement came as a surprise to some students, Young expressed the opposite sentiment.

“My reaction was not surprised just because a lot of people were not taking precautions prior to school starting,” said Young. “A lot of people didn’t think that COVID would last this long or they thought that it wouldn’t impact them directly. So instead of being safe and safely quarantining, people were still going out so I had a feeling it would be online.”

Prior to the pandemic, CPP had offered virtual classes — though the online shift of nearly every course has posed difficulty even for students familiar with remote learning formats.

Jennifer Guzman, fourth-year hospitality student, noted the differences between one virtual class and a course load of virtual classes.

“I have always taken one or two classes online so last semester when we went online it didn’t seem bad. This semester, however, has been really hard,” said Guzman.

When Guzman heard the news about spring semester, she was faced with an important decision: finish school now or wait until the campus reopens.

“I’m graduating this semester, but I really debated splitting the classes I’m taking now and finishing in person,” said Guzman. “Ultimately, I decided against that so when I heard spring was going to be online, I was glad I didn’t split my classes.”

Along with other graduating students, Guzman spent her last day on campus not knowing it would her last as a CPP undergraduate student.

(Featured image courtesy of Engin Akyurt)

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