September 10, 2021 | NEWS | By Lily Weaver | Photo by Tamar Crump
The return to in-person classes has long been anticipated by not only the Colorado College community but many educational institutions across the United States. The transition to virtual classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult, and the prospect of in-person classes remained far on the horizon until this school year.
CC students spoke to The Catalyst about returning to in-person classes this fall.
“Being back in in-person class has been so exciting,” Emma Bartholomay ’24 said. “At first I was really overwhelmed and was afraid that the transition from online class to in-person class was going to be really difficult. Classes in person allow me to reach my full potential as a student and make me excited to learn again.”
Psalm Delaney ’24 shared in Bartholomay’s enthusiasm. “CC’s in-person classes so far have been great. I love learning on campus and interacting with others in person,” Delaney said. “I learned a lot through my virtual first year but appreciated being back for sophomore year.”
Dani Breslow ’22 has also had a positive in-person learning experience so far. “Returning to in-person learning has been a pleasant adjustment,” Breslow said. “Although two-hour Zoom classes were worthwhile, nothing can beat in-person discussions or other immersive benefits that come along with the CC campus experience.”
Sean Dunbar ’24 shared in Breslow’s sentiments overall, but noted that it has been a process to adjust to in-person classes at CC for the first time. “The first few days of my class were online, so I’m still adjusting to being in the classroom,” Dunbar said. “[The] online days felt like a completely different experience [compared] to last year because of the atmosphere and collaboration that is happening.”
“Going back to test and quizzes being important feels like a change because I’m working toward those assessments instead of learning for the sake of learning,” Dunbar said, when asked if he had any suggestions regarding CC’s transition from virtual to in-person classes. “But overall, being back in person has massively improved my school experience here at CC.”
Nathalie San Fratello ’25 also voiced her opinion on the transition, providing a unique perspective as a first-year student. “Transitioning to college in-person from an almost fully remote senior year of high school has been difficult emotionally and academically, but also extremely reviving,” she said.
San Fratello’s senior year of high school was heavily impacted by COVID restrictions. “[Senior year is] typically a year that’s hard to stay motivated through, however, COVID made it even more of a challenge,” she said. “I’m so grateful to be back in-person in a new environment because it’s reminding me why I love to learn, and I’m surrounded by a lot of people experiencing the same re-adjustment and excitement.”
San Fratello finds comfort in knowing that many of her peers can share in her feelings about the transition from a virtual year of high school to in-person classes in college.
Students, though, are not the only ones who have had to bear the changes that have accompanied a return to in-person instruction.
History professor Tip Ragan raised some concerns about returning to in-person teaching. “Not surprisingly, faculty members have different comfort levels when it comes to living and working in a COVID world,” Ragan said. “I think that if I had children who were too young to be vaccinated or if I lived with someone who was immunocompromised, I would be quite worried. Although I’m naturally nervous about getting a breakthrough infection, I am very pleased to be back to in-person teaching.”
Ragan acknowledged the potential danger in teaching in-person, but he did not disregard the numerous benefits. “When it comes to collaborative learning, something wondrous happens with ‘real’ interactions that cannot be easily replicated in the ‘virtual’ world,” Ragan said.
When asked how he believes CC has handled the transition from virtual to in person classes, Ragan said, “I think that Colorado College has generally handled the pandemic quite well, especially in recent months. Under the able leadership of Professor Andrea Bruder, Associate Dean and Chief Public Health Advisor for CC, I feel that we are in good hands.”
Ragan emphasized the importance of vaccination in preventing severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19. “I also think that the institution’s move to require that the entire community be vaccinated is the right call,” he said. “I would personally argue that we should be even stricter and grant waivers only on the basis of medical reasons, not for religious or personal ones.”