Georgetown University will allow all graduate courses to resume hybrid status as of Feb. 15, following two weeks of virtual operations due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Georgetown community.
Last semester, all university courses operated fully online for at least the first four weeks of the semester. In October 2020, the university piloted a variety of hybrid programs, including 14 graduate courses, to explore in-person learning, according to an email sent to Georgetown students from the Office of the President. In November, the university announced it would offer approximately 200 hybrid courses for senior undergraduates and graduate students this spring semester.
Some graduate students and community members oppose the university’s decision to offer hybrid courses this semester, according to Ellen Jacobs (GRD ’24), a biology student and chair of the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees.
“I felt the spring plans were extremely ill-advised,” Jacobs wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The pandemic is worse than ever and vaccine rollout is so slow that very few of us will be vaccinated by the end of the semester, so I think that it was irresponsible to expand hybrid classes and encourage students to come back to DC.”
Returning to hybrid classes, however, is especially important for graduate students taking courses with hands-on components, such as lab sciences, according to Henry Watson (GRD ’23), president of the Graduate Student Government.
“We are glad that Georgetown’s graduate students will continue to have the opportunity to engage in hybrid instruction,” Watson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “However, it should be emphasized that the resumption of hybrid classes will only affect a small minority of students. Most graduate students are still 100% online.”
According to a university spokesperson, all decisions regarding the university’s operating status and hybrid course offerings have been guided by the university’s commitment to protecting the community.
“When making the decision to resume hybrid classes, University officials reviewed public health metrics within the University community as a whole and among specific University populations,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “These metrics include positivity rate and transmission/contact tracing data. In this instance, the majority of positive cases were concentrated among undergraduates living in the neighborhoods. Metrics will continue to be monitored and assessed on an ongoing basis.”
Although all graduate hybrid courses are now allowed to resume in person, it is up to the professor’s discretion whether to meet, and students have the option to continue participating in their classes virtually, according to the spokesperson.
While students are grateful to return to in-person learning this semester, it is difficult to keep up with constant changes to the university’s plans, according to Watson.
“Our student body is resilient, but the uncertainty is taking a toll on mental health, morale, and in some instances, academic and professional work. As we advance, we hope that students will receive more notice when plans change so they can adjust themselves accordingly,” Watson wrote.