Georgetown University undergraduate hybrid courses will remain fully virtual until March 8 as COVID-19 infections among students remain high.
The university originally moved graduate and undergraduate hybrid courses to virtual instruction Jan. 28 following a spike in COVID-19 cases among Georgetown community members living on and near campus. Graduate courses were cleared to restart in-person instruction as of Feb. 15, but all undergraduate hybrid courses and activities will remain virtual, according to a Feb. 18 university-wide email.
Although in-person learning has been paused since Jan. 28, students and professors are energized by the opportunity for in-person instruction, according to Fr. Mark Bosco, S.J., who is teaching a hybrid class about British author Graham Greene.
“You could see they were excited to be on campus, they were excited to be in a classroom, I was excited by their energy,” Bosco said in a Zoom interview with The Hoya.
While Bosco only had two in-person classes this semester, he said he saw a noticeable change in the demeanour of students who were able to return to in-person learning.
“I felt immediately the difference again of feeling back in college, back on campus, watching the facial expressions and the interactions of people,” Bosco said.
While operating fully virtually last semester, the university began piloting graduate and undergraduate hybrid courses in November. This semester, around 200 hybrid courses were offered to graduate students and undergraduate seniors living on campus or in the Georgetown neighborhood.
The chance to interact with fellow students in person allowed for more vibrant class discussions, according to Regan Donecker (MSB ’21), who took a hybrid strategic management class in the fall and is registered for a hybrid education, inquiry and justice capstone course this semester.
“It was nice to have the opportunity to talk with my peers in a more casual setting,” Donecker wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Class discussion was refreshing as people could have more open conversations.”
Since the university reopened after winter break, there have been 332 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Georgetown community members as of Feb. 22. After 25 cases were discovered in just a few days, the university announced a change of operating status, switching to fully virtual instruction and restricting access to Lauinger Library.
Faculty and students can opt out of in-person instruction at any time and are required to adhere to all university health and safety guidelines, according to a university spokesperson.
“As with all decisions during the pandemic, this decision was made subject to change based on pandemic conditions,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Students in hybrid courses are not required to come to campus, and we have worked creatively to ensure their continued learning in a virtual environment.”
The university should open Lauinger Library, which is currently only available by reservation to students living on campus and graduate students with approval, not to undergraduate seniors, according to Donecker.
“We lack study spaces and live in communal town houses, so it is hard to find quiet space to work,” Donecker wrote. “Even if the university decides to cancel hybrid courses, the senior class deserves a work space where we can easily spread out.”