Wu Caiyi | Senior Staff Photographer
For the first time in months, Jillian Werbisky, a junior psychology and administration of justice double major, will attend a class in person this week. Werbisky said she is looking forward to attending her Scene Painting class on Tuesday.
“I’m excited for that class,” Werbisky said. “That was the only one that I really was kind of hoping that I could do in person.”
Provost Ann Cudd announced Wednesday that faculty will begin to offer additional in-person courses over the next few weeks starting Monday, adding to the 8% of classes already being held in person.
The partial transition to in-person classes comes after 35 new COVID-19 cases were identified among Pitt students between Monday and Thursday of last week. There are currently 93 student cases and two faculty cases active out of a total of 199 student and 29 employee cases identified at the University since June 26.
This shifting of some additional classes to in-person teaching arrives three weeks after the University originally planned to start moving more online courses to in person. Cudd said on Aug. 19 that the start of most in-person classes would be delayed to “allow for the completion of staged arrival and shelter-in-place procedures.”
Faculty and students who wish to hold and attend classes completely remotely will still have that option as a part of the [email protected] model.
One student choosing to continue attending classes virtually is Katie Richmond, a junior mechanical engineering major and Student Government Board member. Richmond said although two of her lectures will begin meeting in person this week, she feels more comfortable attending synchronous Zoom meetings.
“To me, it’s like, I think I’d just got my groove kind of going with online classes,” Richmond said. “With the going in person with the risk of then having it canceled again and having to go back to online, I think I’d rather just stay online fully.”
Werbisky said she was glad to learn her class will be in person, mainly because it is more dependent on physical material than a typical lecture or seminar.
“It is a lot more hands-on and it’s not something that I’ve ever done before,” Werbisky said. “I wanted to have that teacher feedback while doing something in person.”
Werbisky said she will attend Scene Painting with half of her class Tuesday, while the other half who wish to go in person will attend Thursday. She added that while most of her class will attend the in-person classes, there are options over Zoom for students who choose to continue to take the class completely online.
Werbisky added that she doesn’t feel disappointed that the rest of her classes are continuing completely online.
“Most of my professors have done a decent job of making sure we’re recording and we’re doing enough lecture and discussion in all the classes,” Werbisky said. “So it’s not too repetitive and so far they’ve all been good so I don’t feel a need to go in person.”
For John Dwyer, a senior architecture and urban studies double major, the shift to additional in-person classes won’t have too much of a personal impact, as he has already been attending his Architecture Design Studio 4 class in a physical classroom. But Dwyer said he is nervous that more classes moving in person will increase the number of COVID-19 cases on campus and cause labs and studios already in person to have to shift to online.
“Classes like English, math, I feel like they could be all online even though I understand the level of education is not the best,” Dwyer said. “I feel like the more that people go back to class, that will jeopardize the students who absolutely need to be in person.”
Dwyer said out of the 13 students in his class, only five have ever been in the physical classroom at the same time. Each student in the class also attends a Zoom meeting, whether they are in the physical classroom or not.
“Our laptops will be muted and then the professor will be in the front of the room on Zoom as well,” Dwyer said. “So we’re watching the lecture through Zoom while we’re in person.”
Richmond added she thinks in-person classes starting could be helpful for students who don’t learn as well online.
“I know how difficult this has been for so many people that they just do not find Zoom learning to be a conducive learning environment,” Richmond said. “I do fully understand how some people are really desperate to be able to go in person again, so I think that there’s sort of a compromise in it.”