The hesitancy of last semester is changing to confidence, largely because of Ramapo’s decision to require the COVID-19 vaccine at the beginning of the academic year. Ramapo requires the vaccine for all students, faculty and staff who will be on campus in any capacity, reassuring students and faculty that in-person learning is safe.
Dr. Indya J. Jackson, assistant professor of African American literature, is teaching in person for the first time at Ramapo after joining the college during the fall 2020 semester. Dr. Jackson is eager to join students in person and feels safer doing so due to this vaccine mandate.
“Knowing that 94% of Ramapo students are vaccinated against COVID has definitely made teaching in-person classes less anxiety inducing,” said Dr. Jackson. “So yes, I feel physically safe teaching in person.”
Ramapo’s pattern of low cases and their decision to require the booster shot for all on-campus students indicates that Ramapo’s administration is confident regarding their ability to manage the pandemic effectively, despite the surge of the Omicron variant.
The college is almost entirely in-person now, with only a few stray online classes remaining. The general attitude seems to be a positive one, as students and professors alike are eager to return to in-person classes.
“My experience with online learning was positive and negative,” said Samantha Savercool, a junior elementary education major. “I was still able to complete my assignments, but I felt like I was truly missing out on the benefits of interacting with my classmates and teachers, getting to do homework together on campus and going to the library to study.”
Savercool is not alone in her belief that online classes cannot recreate the same social benefits of in person classes. Professor Yvette Kisor, an English and literary studies professor, has taught both online and in-person classes. After educating students in both formats, she has declared a preference for her teaching format.
“My preference is to teach fully in person, though I have discovered that a hybrid option works well for summer courses,” said Kisor. “There is no replacement for the energy and engagement that can be generated when we are fully in person.”
No matter how introverted one may be, humans are at their core social creatures. We crave social contact and interaction on a base level. This is one of many reasons why being isolated at home during the COVID-19 pandemic was so challenging for people. Now it is like we’re slowly edging out of a hibernation state, and learning how to interact with a world that’s changed.
There is a notable number of skeptics who worry that we’re returning to in-person classes and activities too fast. This is largely due to the rise in cases caused by the Omicron variant. The threat of Ramapo switching to a fully virtual format once again is enough to inject caution into the joyful energy students have right now.
It seems to me that the most sensible plan to keep things in-person is to abide by the administration and the Office of Residence Life’s rules, no matter your personal opinions on the policies. In order for us to guarantee a full and vibrant semester for everyone, let’s exercise caution as we bring our spring semester into fruition.