Welcome 2020-2021 College Freshmen!

Sorry sunny boy, no more playing online casino games instead of paying attention to your boring literature lesson.  It is time to return to in person learning for your college courses — better late than never.

In a little over a week, my oldest son is going to be heading off to college for his freshman year.  If COVID had not affected the world, he would have started out his college life in college dorms, and doing all of the things that freshmen college students usually do in September 2020 … but 7 months later and it is time for that part of his college life to begin.

Today is March 26, 2021, and I just read an article called “How coronavirus dramatically changed college for over 14 million students” dated March 26, 2020 from CNBC.  My, how things change over a year (and not changed, as well).

A year ago, colleges were just starting to close down and change to online learning.

On March 7, 2020, the University of Washington became the first large university to close its doors due to coronavirus.  Soon after, schools from across the US followed suit.  Then other countries, including Israel, played “follow the leader” and followed the US’s examples by closing their college campuses as well.

By March 10, 2020, students were being given 5 days to evacuate their dorms.

And the Beat Goes On….

By the end of the year, entrance exams for college had been postponed.  By the time my son visited his college campus in August 2020, he still had not received his official acceptance letter.  Although, they did give him his dorm room key and sent him a tuition bill.

But by the time the first day of school arrived, the students were told the school year was going to start out online.  Since he was in a technical degree program (that had classes that involved labs), we did not really know how it would affect his education.

As it turned out, all of his classes were theory classes.  No labs.  We do not know if that was how the schedule was normally, but for this year, that was how it was.  During the first semester, it was doable.   But in the second semester, the school could no longer hold off giving the technical students labs.  During the first couple of weeks, the teacher focused on lab safety and the theory of the labs the students were going to do later in the term.  But even that could not last the whole term.

Eventually, the teacher had to resort to doing the labs through zoom while the students watched the teacher do the labs.  Definitely NOT the best way to teach technical students.

And Now?

But it is a year later, March 26, 2021, and now the students are being given “5 days warning” to get the stuff packed up and get onto campus, because in person learning is going to resume right after spring break.  Will the “corona shutdowns” unwind as fast as they wound up?  Hopefully the answer is yes.

But things are kind of going in reverse.  At the start of the shut downs, the United States was the leader and small countries like Israel, followed the United State’s lead.  But things are the opposite now.  Israel is leading the way in permanently getting out of the COVID lockdown cycles.  This even included successfully having 100% in person voting with 70% voter turnout including being required to show a photo ID.  Beat that United States with your HR-1, insisting that in person voting and showing a photo ID equals voter suppression.   Israel even had voting stations in every nursing home, hospital, and the airport.  Not to mention many drive through voting locations for COVID quarantine patients with poll workers wearing full protective clothing and voting envelopes being double enveloped.

In the 2020 Presidential race, the United States had 66.3% voter turnout, but I am digressing.

Reviewing the online learning of my son’s first semester in college …. In some ways it worked out, and in other ways it did not.  My son did not have to pay for dorm rooms and student facility fees when the classes were online.  That was good.  For most of the classes, the quality of learning seemed fine.  My son was learning what he was supposed to be learning.

But it was not perfect.  Math was a problem.  If the students were on camps, my son could have worked with a study group when he started to have trouble with math.  But in the online model, that option was not available.  Yes, every class has a “whatsapp” group, and the students are very good at asking and answering each other’s questions (a major plus from my own college days).  But the facial feedback of a teacher seeing a whole class of students with confused faces was not there.

And nothing can replace doing a lab physically in person.

But the students have been given their “5 day warning” to pack up their bags and return to campus and in another year, this whole entire COVID catastrophe will hopefully be “in the past”.