OREGON -- Winter term 2021 has arrived for many Oregon colleges and universities.
But what will that actually look like?
After the pandemic has changed course over the months for schools in our area, leaders shared that they’re pushing a strong start of remote learning. As they put it -- safety and good health will not be taken for granted.
“We are emphasizing the importance that while we're waiting for vaccinations that can be shared with the community of our students and employees, we need to remain ever vigilant,” OSU spokesperson Steve Clark said.
For Oregon State University, 95 percent of classes at their Corvallis campus are offered online.
The school will be testing thousands of students and employees throughout winter term. In this week alone, more than 10,000 faculty, staff and students were sent invitations to get tested. Decisions will be made in February about what spring term will look like.
"Most of our employees are working remotely, so they can preserve their good health and the health of the OSU community," Clark said.
Students also shared their thoughts.
Austin Goergen is a junior at OSU.
“I definitely miss the in-person instruction,” Goergen said. “It starts to feel like Groundhog's Day. You do your learning in your apartment. You do your eating and sleeping in your apartment. I didn't realize how important having that kind of break in your routine of just driving to campus and being on campus for learning.”
He said there are benefits, even through the distance.
“Even though I would say I am a lot more isolated physically speaking, I've actually gained a lot of new connections to people in my class that I never knew,” Goergen said.
For the University of Oregon, all classes are conducted online this week to give students a chance to be tested and to quarantine if they are returning to campus. The school requires all students living on campus to participate in their internal coronavirus testing program.
Kirby Brown is an associate professor at the UO.
“Even though we're almost a year into the quarantine, there's still an incredible amount of labor to try to figure out how best to take a classroom environment and make it into a remote situation that's going to be rewarding and engaging for the students,” Brown said.
He said there is no replacement for in-person instruction, but everyone is doing the best they can to provide a safe learning environment.
“I have hope that we're going to continue to make the experience as good as it possibly can be,” Brown said.
Lane Community College also kicked off winter term Monday. Ninety percent of instruction an services are offered remotely with only ten percent in person for an expansion of in-person lab instruction and tutoring.
Before the pandemic, 75 percent of instruction was conducted in person with 25 percent remote.
Paul Jarrell is the Provost and Executive Vice President for Lane Community College.
“My hope is that we can continue to provide the courses and resources students need to continue their studies,” Jarrell said. “We have been very fortunate so far. To date, we have only had five students and seven employees in in-person settings test positive for COVID. That has allowed us to keep our in-person activities going in this modified format. I am very hopeful that the general population will get vaccinated by this spring. Our goal is to have a more normal in-person educational experience this fall.”
LCC has loaned out over 250 laptops to students and has increased their wireless access in parking lots and outdoor areas. Additional staffing has also been expanded to assist students with remote learning.