Students ambivalent about spring semester’s remote start

Empty+classroom+at+Cal+State+LA

Cornell Chuaseco

Classrooms are empty for the first three weeks of the spring 2022 semester at Cal State LA.

Priscilla Caballero, Reporter

Fully vaccinated? Check.

Booster shot? Check.

First three weeks of spring semester remotely? It’s not exactly how Cal State LA students thought their spring semester would start. 

Jacob Rangnes, an electrical engineering major and SILA (Semester in LA) exchange student from Oslo, Norway, said he understands why Cal State LA made this move to go online, but he wishes in-person classes would remain an option during the first three weeks of the semester. 

“We’re here to explore and make new friends, and the first three weeks limits us to make new friends so that’s kind of boring, but we understand that it needs to be done,” he said. 

English major Nora Bakkene, another SILA exchange student from Oslo, said that she was not only excited about the warm L.A. sunshine, but more so about being in-person for her spring classes. 

“Personally, I think we should continue in-person after these three weeks if the situation is better,” she said. 

Bakkene and Rangnes are not alone. Andrea Cano, a kinesiology major, expressed similar feelings about the decision. Cano said she wants to come back on campus and that she feels safe with the proper precautions. 

“Most of my classes, especially being a fifth year, they’re more hands-on and involve clinics and labs, so I feel it’s important to go back in-person because it’s not the same as online,” she said. “Honestly, I had labs last semester that were online and I didn’t learn anything, so I’m glad we’re going back.”

For Cano, it’s the little things that count. She said she feels safe because she does not go out too often unless it involves work or school. She always brings sanitary wipes with her to clean the tables and areas when entering her work space.

Cano believes hybrid learning would be the best decision for Cal State LA. 

“There should be options for lectures being online and labs being in-person since those are more hands-on learning,” she said.

For other students like Bryant Eurioles, a mechanical engineering major, the three-week remote learning decision has created complications location-wise.  

Eurioles said he understands the need and necessity of the decision for the safety of others, but he has faced some challenges with housing because he lives several hours away. 

“I’m from Bakersfield, and I’m going to live there for the first two weeks of the semester and then I’m going to come [to LA] so that is going to be kind of complicated,” he said. “It’s been kind of a mess trying to figure out all that stuff because housing is very complicated and I need a job.”

Marco Cardenas, an English major, said he does not mind the temporary remote instruction. Rather, he has adapted to it.

“Well, at this point I’m kind of just used to it,” he said. “I was figuring it was going to happen due to the new variant, so I wasn’t really surprised when they announced it would be three weeks.”  

Cardenas believes that being in-person for his English major is not as necessary as other majors, but he understands the push for more in-person classes. 

“For this semester specifically, I think it would just be easier online,” he said. “I don’t like the idea of three weeks online and then transitioning back to in-person because it just kind of disrupts the flow.”

Biology major Jennifer Funes believes that the first three weeks online could be beneficial for students like her who balance work with school. Funes is a wet lab research intern for a start-up biotech company located on campus in the bioscience building.  

“I actually think it’s good just because cases have been going up a lot recently,” she said. “It gives students leeway because we’ve been remote for like a year and to just jump back in straight to in-person would be hard on some students, especially because a lot of students work. I think being remote the first three weeks will give those students a chance to accommodate their schedule better.”

Funes also agrees that lab sections for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors should be held in- person.

“Learning the concepts just through books is not good,” she said. “You need to acquire these skills in person. You can’t just ‘know’ it, but you have to know ‘how’ to do it.”

Irene Ngo, a biology major, said she does not feel safe coming back after the third week. 

“I feel like even though we’re all required to have a booster shot, I think that there’s still a chance we could all get COVID somehow because everyone is getting exposed to different things we don’t know about, and they might bring it to campus,” she said. 

The university confirmed last week that classes will resume in-person on Feb. 14.