by Aleen Xue ’21
U.S. colleges that chose to go hybrid for the fall semester of 2020 had varying levels of success with controlling COVID-19 cases.
Moravian College, a small liberal arts college located in Pennsylvania, opted for a hybrid model that included online, remote, and in-person classes.
In an interview, Orion Sun, a junior at Moravian College, recounts how tough it was to perfectly follow the guidelines: “The CDC says you’re supposed to stand six feet apart from each other… Our school had it like you just sit every other chair… it was definitely not six feet apart; it was three feet. And we all had to wear masks for the most part. I knew some people who just straight up did not wear masks.”
Things then rapidly took a turn for the worse. Orion explains, “Around Halloween officially there weren’t parties; unofficially, yeah totally, which then led to the entire school being in lockdown for the rest of the semester after a few days.”
Another college that went hybrid for the fall semester was Montclair State University, located in New Jersey. Olivia Wojtowicz, a freshman at Montclair State University, recounts how by the end of the semester, “[COVID-19 cases] got so bad, like there was this sign that they would put on people’s doors… but that would mean you have COVID and these people cannot leave their rooms… my hallway, in particular, had three by the time I left.”
In-person learners clearly face the risk of contracting COVID-19. The CDC labels people who regularly engage in in-person learning and events at the highest risk.
Furthermore, a recent New York Times survey of over 1,900 American colleges and universities reveals that there have been more than 397,000 cases since the pandemic began.
Despite the risks of in-person learning, for Olivia, as a freshman, the opportunity to be on campus was life-changing. She explains, “The people you meet in college will really bring out the side of you where it’s like, oh, this is who I am… these are the people I want to surround myself with. It’s so nice.”
Overall, both students saw their fall semester to be a success to some extent. Orion recounts, “We did decently well… I remember Lehigh had to close down two separate times. We did much better than Lehigh.” On the other hand, when asked if her school went into lockdown, Olivia stated, “That wasn’t us. Could not be Montclair.”