With very little foot traffic on the sidewalks of WMU's campus, students on wheels take advantage of the empty space.

With very little foot traffic on the sidewalks of WMU's campus, students on wheels take advantage of the empty space. 

As summer winds down, students everywhere are stocking up on pens and paper to begin their classes in the fall. Unlike most years, school supplies also include facial masks and hand sanitizer.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic Western Michigan University created their Safe Return Plan to resume classes while promoting health and safety on campus. This plan will alter the accustomed procedures of dining halls, dormitories, buses and even classes, with many being transitioned to hybrid or fully online courses.

For some who thrive with hands-on learning, a digital semester sounds less than ideal. Studio Art Major Amy Maurice is one of these students.

“My biggest improvements were made as the professor watched how I was doing something and showed me ways to improve my approach,” Maurice said.

With another online semester on the horizon, students remember back to the online half of the Spring 2020 semester. 

“Last semester was difficult for me once we moved online and lost in-class interactions,” Graduate Student and Teaching Assistant Hanna Fussman said.

Similarly, Maurice said when she had to take her art classes online for the second half of the Spring Semester, she didn’t think her skills improved and found it difficult to schedule a time to receive feedback.

Despite the difficulties, some students are looking forward to getting back to school with the precautions in place. Fussman said she is nervous about the upcoming semester, but is ready to be back on campus.

 “I feel more safe knowing that online classes limit my exposure to COVID,” Rileigh Weber, an incoming freshman, said. “It will definitely change my first year experience.”

Fussman also said she worries that people won’t take the university recommendations seriously, which will put others at risk.

In the university's facial covering policy it mentioned that it is the responsibility of supervisors and classroom instructors to monitor compliance with the policy.

“This is all very disappointing,” says Maurice. “However, I believe these compromises do provide a good balance between education and safety.” 

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