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OPINION: Returning to ‘normal’ in classrooms

OPINION: Returning to ‘normal’ in classrooms

By Gabriel Arredondo
Bridge Staff Intern
Published Friday, April 30, 2021

After almost a year of remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TAMIU finally ramps up to return to in-person learning. In the fall semester, the University will return to traditional in-person classes.

With this comes some positive and negative things. As a graduating student who will possibly return to TAMIU in the fall for my master’s, I have very mixed feelings about this idea of returning to in-person learning.

Gabriel Arredondo portrait
Gabriel Arredondo
Bridge Staff Intern

As far as positives, there are a few that come to mind. Speaking from personal experience, I am a very visual learner and I tend to learn better when I’m physically present. I understand more when the professor is actually there to help you out and go into further detail.

Another thing I believe is a positive toward returning to in-person learning is social interaction. Like most, I have not seen many of my friends or former classmates since March 2020. I really miss interacting with other people.

Another positive is that vaccines are out and according to the city of Laredo’s Instagram page, 65.69% of Laredoans received vaccinations with one dose and 40.73% are fully vaccinated. That means that a good chunk of those percentages are likely students, so most students should be safe.

However, this brings up the negatives. One of the biggest negatives of in-person learning is that just because there are a lot of vaccinated people in Laredo, that doesn’t mean everyone in Laredo will take the vaccine. There will be non-vaccinated people around campus.

That could potentially cause a spread around campus. Another is that, while the vaccine is effective, it’s not 100% effective. Vaccinated people can still get COVID-19, albeit not as serious, but still spread it to non-vaccinated people. So the risk of spreading the disease isn’t 100%, but it’s still there.

Another thing most people don’t take into account is that while Laredo’s adult population is mostly vaccinated, children aren’t. Many TAMIU students care for young children as parents or as an older sibling. Before the pandemic occurred, I would notice students bringing their children to campus, because they couldn’t find someone to care for them.

Even though this disease doesn’t affect children as seriously as adults, they can still spread the disease to adults, too. Especially if they don’t wear masks, and a lot of kids don’t like to wear masks. They’re not used to it. So that’s another thing that should be looked into.

As a whole, I have mixed feelings about returning to in-person learning. What I think TAMIU should do is to continue using COVID-19 precautions around campus. That could make many students more comfortable, myself included.

I also think face mask use should continue, depending on the status of Laredo’s transmission rates in August. If transmission rates remain low and COVID-19 is practically gone for the most part, I think face masks don’t need to be required. But if there is still a bit of COVID-19 and vaccine protection fades, then face masks should stay—at least temporarily.

Next semester is going to be a different experience for everyone. But a learning one at that.

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