COVID-19 never went away over the summer, which led to a very different fall semester. Colleges across the country, including the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB), were faced with an unprecedented decision. They could either move to an entirely virtual format, hold classes in person or mix the two formats. The final decision was a mix. This decision was seen differently depending on professor, however, no matter what the perspective they continued to provide the best education they could during a pandemic.
Perhaps the most significant factor during the entirety of this decision-making process was the safety concern of the students and faculty. UWGB decided that it was best not to move its classes entirely online and proceed with a hybrid approach for the fall semester. Ultimately it was up to the professors to decide how they would be holding their courses, as long as it didn’t put the campus over its designated capacity for in-person classes.
The COMM Professor’s Perspective
Danielle Bina, a Communication Professor at UWGB decided it was best to move her classes to a virtual setting, “I had a very difficult time making a decision, mostly because I enjoy the face to face interaction, and some of my courses are hands-on. It’s challenging in a virtual environment. However, given space needs on campus, and the issues involving COVID-19, I felt it was in the best interest of all to stay online this semester.”
Another Communication Professor, Shauna Froelich, has a different point of view on the situation, “I have four children (all middle and high school age), and I believe I have a 97% chance of contracting COVID-19 if I haven’t already. I do not want to get sick or spread a virus, but I don’t consider myself high risk or unable to avoid (it). Even more, I saw the toll online (classes) took on my kids. It is not an optimal learning environment for the majority of students, and I wanted to give them an in-person class.”
One major downfall for professors during this pandemic is the added workload to their already busy schedules. Already facing numerous challenges and conflicts, being forced to change the way they teach and run their courses is perhaps the main result of a growing workload for professors due to COVID-19. “(My workload) increased initially because I needed to convert everything online. It’s also difficult to keep up with the volume of emails and individual clarification questions. When we’re face-to-face, I can clear up any issues in a group setting,” said Professor Bina.
Great Adaptions = Great Results
Given the circumstances, students and professors alike are persevering and taking everything one day at a time. Chair of the Communication Department, Professor Phil Clampitt, had these inspiring words when asked what can be gained from this experience, “CAPs On! (Carry on, Adapt, Perform).” Stating that this experience is positive in three specific ways, “It forces us to innovatively deliver our expertise, it helps us determine what are the high value experiences and learnings, and allows us to showcase resilient and adaptive learning.”
On October 5, an email sent out to the University community and published on UWGB’s Facebook page, by Chancellor Michael Alexander, shared that “the campus’s positivity rate was that of only 1.13%, an amazingly low number,” compared to the high results across the county. Why? The campus has laid out clear and precise safety guidelines in order to achieve this level of success. These guidelines include requiring face masks on campus at all times, training for staff, encouraging students and staff to stay home if they are not feeling well, separating desks to provide social distancing, and isolating those who have tested positive. Overall, UW-Green Bay is doing the best they can with allowing its campus to maintain open during these challenging times. Professor Bina states, “I’m actually amazed by the scope and results. The leadership team has done an outstanding job. Bravo to all!”
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