Does anyone else miss online quarters?


Maddy Maes

Senior Edward Conover works on some online classwork in the hallway outside of the John T. Richardson Library

I can’t believe I’m saying this but after the first week of in-person learning, I actually miss online classes.

I understand I may be in the minority on this issue. I, too, experienced the cabin fever of sitting at my desk for hours on end, Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting. And, of course, I miss being able to sit close to my friends during classes, or make new ones, maskless and worry-free.

But after experiencing in-person classes again last week and all of Fall quarter, I’ve concluded that live classes during Covid-19 don’t scratch the same social itch they did pre-pandemic. I think I’ve made more friends using Zoom chat than I have in any live classes during this Covid Era. And I’m certainly not learning any better — lectures feel identical live as they do online, and most work is done outside of class, anyways. Overall, the experience has been so sporadic and impersonal that I’d rather keep learning online.

Part of this is timing. We’re currently hitting historic highs for new infections, and knowing little  about the emerging Omicron variant is largely to blame. Omicron appears to be better at evading antibodies in the vaccinated, causing more breakthrough cases than ever. In response, DePaul University updated their masking policy for live classrooms, requiring students either double-mask or wear higher quality alternatives like N95s and KN95s. 

To be clear, I’m personally not concerned about catching Covid in the classroom; the mask requirement and smaller class sizes should prevent that. In fact, one of my classes has just three total students. We sit on opposite corners of the room all class, (how engaging).

But students and professors are bound to get sick elsewhere given the meteoric rise in infections at the moment. When they do, this will add more unneeded disruption to the classroom. Is the week-to-week attendance status of professors and classmates really better than learning consistently online? I don’t think so.

Additionally, I can’t help but scoff at DePaul’s new double-masking guidelines for live learning. Regardless of the mask type, the risk of getting Covid in the classroom pales in comparison to that of the CTA, most students’ primary form of transportation, and where the mask policy is so loosely enforced it may as well not exist. When we arrive at campus, we still pile into the 14 East elevators like sardines to get to class on time. I know there’s nothing DePaul can realistically do about the logistics of getting to class, but it’s all the more reason I’d rather just stay online for another semester.

I hope to be surprised this quarter. I hope my classmates and professors will stay healthy, and the courses will run smoothly. Maybe I’ll grow used to this new type of in-person learning, just as I grew accustomed to online classes.

But for now, I’m just not convinced that sitting on opposite ends of the room from classmates, with a masked professor, and increased risk of infection, is a much better experience than learning online. The past two years have been unpredictable enough; returning to in-person classes now seems like more trouble than it’s worth.