President Ferguson forms task forces to help plan university’s reopening
APU student Jillian Schneider was studying abroad at Oxford University in March when she received an email from her program that all in-person classes were to be immediately suspended.
She got on a flight home to the U.S. shortly after and had to readjust to an online class format for the rest of the semester.
Removed from an in-person academic environment, Schneider experienced first hand how the pandemic was affecting higher education across the globe.
As universities globally are grappling with the health and safety risks that campus reopenings could pose in the fall semester, APU still intends to reopen come September.
“It is the university’s clear intent to reopen APU’s campuses this fall with appropriate modifications in operations to safeguard the health and safety of our community while moving our mission forward,” a university spokesperson said.
Although a final decision has not been made, President Paul Ferguson has formed two separate task forces to assist the university in planning its reopening.
“Our planning will begin now and follow local, state and national recommendations and directives,” the spokesperson said. “As soon as we have a clear understanding of the reopening framework, we will share specific plans with the APU Community.”
Students express concern about online learning
Schneider, an honors and communication studies major, hopes that in person classes will resume sooner rather than later.
“Having to complete all my homework virtually not only affected the quality of the learning experience but caused my grades to suffer,” Schneider said. “While everyone handles change differently, I know that purely online classes simply would not allow me to do academic work to my fullest capacity.”
Schneider is not the only student who feels this way.
Senior biology major Andy Li plans on taking a human anatomy class in the fall, and not being able to meet in-person will mean he won’t get the hands-on experience of working with human cadavers.
Others took to some of the university’s student Facebook groups to express their concern about whether or not APU will reopen.
The bigger picture
APU’s announcement comes a day after the 23-campus wide California State University system said it plans to follow a remote instruction format in the fall.
California has already started taking steps toward a gradual reopening, but the state has continued to struggle with a growing number of fatalities and confirmed cases. On Tuesday, a member of the White House coronavirus task force said it would be “a bridge too far” to think that treatments or vaccines could be available in time to facilitate student’s reentry into schools this fall.
While only a couple of universities across the nation have said they are going to offer online-only classes, the vast majority anticipate to return to an in-person class format, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Others plan on adopting a hybrid model of education which will be composed of both online and in-person instruction.
However, Li remains hopeful that his department’s faculty and the university will find the best alternative for students.
“I know this,” he said, “because I know that the university’s faculty really care about us and the education we get.”