UAB will switch back to in person learning as the primary mode for classes starting Summer 2021, according to an official email sent to students Monday.
UAB has based this decision on the reducing COVID-19 numbers and increasing number of vaccines, according to the email.
“Based on these data and the expert projections, I am pleased to share news regarding the summer and fall terms made possible by the leadership and support of the University of Alabama at Birmingham System and the UA System Health and Safety Task Force,” said Pam Benoit, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.
COVID-19 safety procedures and guidelines will remain in place as necessary, according to the official email. However, Benoit said, “We anticipate social distancing requirements are likely to be relaxed by the fall.”
Students want to start in-person classes because they are craving an interactive college experience, according to Grace Cortez, a public relations senior majoring in public relations.
“I am excited. I have severe Zoom burnout, so I hope going back to school in person will motivate me to work even harder,” Cortez said.
“Like many others excited to return, I crave to have that sense of social interaction again and hug friends who remained remote over the year, said Ms. UAB, Angela Lee. “Sterne library will finally regain its title as ‘Club Sterne’ and RSO food events will be lining my weekdays. Students want their college experience back, and I feel the same way!”
Students are concerned about those who feel unsafe to return, according to Lee, who is also the executive vice president of the Undergraduate Student Government Association.
“No flexibility has been offered for us to adjust back to in-person,” Lee said. “We are still in a pandemic, though, and until all cases are eradicated, I can imagine the distress that will factor into students who are unready to return.”
Vaishnavi Mantraratnam, a junior majoring in neuroscience, said they are excited yet nervous about the decreased flexibility of going back to in person classes.
“I am just worried about the Covid-19 cases rising and also how I might have to live on campus or move to Birmingham for the summer instead of going home due to the change of classes from remote to in-person.” Mantraratnam said.
In the email announcement, Benoit said the plans to return to in person classes are subject to change, depending on COVID numbers.
“The pandemic remains a fluid situation. If projections change and require plans to be altered, we will alert you as soon as possible,” Benoit said. “In the meantime take care of yourselves and others.”
UAB students should empathize with fellow students and know that they are not alone, Lee said.
“I ask students to reach out to USGA such that student leaders can compile these concerns into a comprehensive document, or email Provost Benoit about personal issues if you are comfortable in doing so,” Lee said. “I hope that students will take the time to empathize with peers who feel differently; after all, we are part of one community.”