UNO Students Cautious For In-Person Classes

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May 13th, 2021

OMAHA – Early last week, it was announced that the University of Nebraska Omaha would allow students to return to in-person classes in the coming fall semester.

This “return to normal” will come with a few conditions. The administration plans to increase classroom sizes to allow for social distancing during in-person classes. They plan to allow approximately two-thirds of the normal class schedule to return to in-person learning.

This decision has prompted a variety of emotions among UNO students. Many, like Payton Merchant, have struggled with online learning for the past year.

“The hardest part was definitely keeping myself accountable,” Merchant said. “I can say classes are harder all I want, but in the end it’s harder to get up to hop in a Zoom class than it is to get up and walk or drive to class.”

In last week’s announcement, the school’s administration said they will not require students to be vaccinated, and are currently unsure of whether there will be a mask mandate on campus. UNO Chancellor Jeffrey Gold said masking will depend on whether or not community spread of COVID-19 has slowed down by the fall.

UNO senior Sydney Meier is concerned about the safety of students if there is no mask mandate and no vaccination requirement on campus in the fall.

“When there’s a group of individuals together, you need at least one of those in order to keep people safe, and by not having those policies it’s essentially disregarding any individual who may have underlying conditions and any individual who is close to somebody with underlying conditions,” Meier said.

The university has said they do plan to be flexible in their planning for next fall, depending on the spread of COVID in the community as the time gets closer. As it stands now, Meier says she would not feel safe going to in-person learning with the current proposed guidelines.

“Just like everybody else, I really want to return to in-person classes and I learn a lot better in in-person environments,” Meier said. “This has been a very frightening pandemic, and the fact that UNO seems to want it to simply be done is frightening, and it is not the reality of our current environment.”

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