Majority of Classes to be Offered in a Hybrid Format for the Spring 2021 Semester

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Dickinson College

Carolina Carneiro '24, Associate Life & Style Editor

After the college’s Nov. 5 announcement to invite all students back to campus in the spring 2021 for a split-semester style, the Registrar’s Office has reported that 56% of the class sections will be offered in a hybrid format, while the remaining 44% will be taught remotely.

First-years and sophomores will be on campus for the first half of the semester, switching with juniors and seniors for the second half. Professors had just a few days to decide their method of instruction before classes were published for students to view on Nov 10. No classes will be offered completely in-person to accommodate students who will be taking classes remotely during their class year’s remote portion of the semester. 

“The situation is different from the fall in these two respects: in the fall, we could not get reliable and rapid testing. Now we have it. We will be testing twice a week,” said President Margee Ensign. “Secondly, the contact tracing is in place. We’ve got state support, as well as the state app. So that gave us the opportunity to bring students back,” she added.

“Even for the students that are here, remember, it’s going to be in-person pandemic, meaning there’s going to bee the six-foot social distancing, there’s going to be face masks or shields, it’s going to be a different kind of experience and it may be that if a professor has 20 students on campus for a course, they may not all fit into classrooms, with social distancing, and so even there there may be some kind of rotation, or some kind of mix of in-person and remote,” said Weissman.

Regarding course selection, many students said they did not make their choices based on the method of instruction. “Most of my classes are all remote except for one, but I didn’t choose them based off of that, it was more about who the professors were, and the times offered,” said Josie Rodriguez ’24. 

“With the ability to have students back safely, we wanted to give all students the option to be back, but we couldn’t do it all at the same time because of those infrastructure constraints. And still, as you know, very real, genuine concerns that this pandemic not only is far from over, but we’re hitting the worst point that we have heard about for a very long time,” said President Ensign. “So that was the basis of the decision: who could we bring back safely, having the testing and tracing, knowing our infrastructure setup. And so we came up with the decision to split the two classes,” she added.

“How faculty will handle courses is going to vary from faculty member to faculty member. Some of them will be pretty adept at this and will be able to do these things simultaneously, others may make different kinds of arrangements, said Provost and Dean of the College Neil Weissman. “There may be classes where the large majority are here, and there are only a couple who are coming in from far away, and so faculty will teach in an in-person sort of way and make special arrangements for the others,” he added.

Molly Moran ’24 said, “I have two hybrid and two fully remote classes. [They] happened to be the ones I already had in mind for the spring semester,” adding that, “going to cool classes in person will still be enjoyable and worthwhile for me.” She noted that she chose to wait until her sophomore year to take a lab science class in order to take it fully in-person. 

Some students mentioned the importance of taking their art classes in person, such as Ellie Parker ’24, who said, “two of my classes will be online and the other two are hybrid; I chose to have some be hybrid, especially since I’m taking an art class next semester.”

“In general, on the one hand we’re faculty to teach against their will in-person, at the same time we’re trying to encourage them all to build an in-person dimension. So that might be office hours, it might be individual meetings and discussion groups, when the weather gets warmer some of that meeting might be done outside,” said Weissman. “Because we don’t want students to come back and have no academic experience other than sitting in their rooms and dialing in remotely, that doesn’t make any sense,” he added.

Course selection period will occur Nov. 20 through Nov. 24.