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Rutgers students discuss thoughts on Spring 2021 semester, remote learning

Some students expressed concerns regarding the efficacy of online learning as opposed to taking classes in-person.  – Photo by Rutgers University / Twitter

Rutgers—New Brunswick Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy recently announced the Spring 2021 semester will continue to operate in a largely remote format, with limited on-campus housing and in-person instruction opportunities available. 

Students shared their thoughts on this decision and discussed concerns regarding learning, safety and the college experience during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

“(Due to COVID-19), nobody’s going on campus so there was no point to live on-campus or off-campus, so I just stayed home,” said Faiza Sikandar, a School of Engineering sophomore. 

She said she was previously a full-time commuter and had hopes of returning to campus for in-person instruction in the spring, but now she will remain living at home for the upcoming semester.  

Benjamin Beard, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, said he had long doubted the possibility of returning to campus in the spring.

“To be completely honest, I never really expected us to go back on campus in the first place … (but) I definitely would have liked to come back to New Brunswick,” Beard said.

Some students, like Sikandar, had concerns regarding online-learning and its efficacy compared to in-person instruction. 

“I think remote completely doesn’t work for me,” Sikandar said “Synchronous and asynchronous classes work for different subjects. Physics is something that asynchronous, recorded lectures do not work (for). I want to ask questions during the lecture and I can’t because it’s recorded.”

Beard said he hasn’t been in a real classroom since March and online learning has been difficult for him. 

“This is a tough structure. I feel kind of lost. I feel like an island, almost,” he said. 

In order to try and replicate the campus experience, Beard said he has been trying to take advantage of open facilities such as Student Centers and libraries on campus.

Louis Forgione, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, said he has become fairly accustomed to remote learning and said he believes this fall semester has better prepared him for the spring semester. 

“I think I’ll be able to handle it better than this semester because I didn’t necessarily plan ahead in terms of class difficulty and all that,” Forgione said. “But now that I’m a little smarter and quicker on the draw, I think I’ll do a little bit better.” 

He also had concerns about the safety of returning to campus and the risk for COVID-19 transmission. 

“I’m a little iffy on going outside right now (due to) the virus,” Forgione said. “My dad’s about 61 years old. Kind of a health risk for his age. Don’t want to endanger him.” 

The Daily Targum previously reported a limited number of students are living on campus, with more in off-campus housing. In the University’s testing update for the week ending on Nov. 21, there were 83 positive results out of the 4,788 tests conducted, with a 1.73 percent proportion positivity rate.

“I do have my concerns. People are going to say this (until) we’re blue in the face, but you’ve got to just follow the rules and it’ll all be over sooner,” Beard said. “I think that the students at Rutgers know that they’re part of a really prestigious and respected worldwide university. I think that, at the end of the day, they’ll live up to that standard and they’ll follow the rules.”

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