With news of student vaccinations taking place in Assembly Hall and in-person instruction for fall 2021, IU students, faculty and staff are preparing for the return to regular in-person classes and activities.
Some students have expressed hesitancy over the transition back to in-person classes and events after spending more than a year taking classes online and social distancing.
IU sophomore Zayn Karim said she has become used to living at home and participating in virtual instruction and events. She said she feels more productive and comfortable in her home environment than an in-person environment.
“I’m at this point where I don’t feel comfortable around other people,” Karim said. “I think it’s going to be hard to switch my brain to be like it’s okay to go in person now.”
Karim said she understands not everyone has had the same positive experience online. She said she personally has done well being at home.
Next semester, Karim said she has the option of signing up for some in-person math classes but is choosing not to.
“I live with someone who is immunocompromised, so I didn’t want to have to go out any more than I was already going to,” Karim said.
She said she feels students should have virtual options available to them in the future, especially those who are sick or have other reasons for not attending in-person classes. Karim said she believes masks should be used for future semesters whenever students are sick and out in public.
IU junior Sahar Rabiei said she is hesitant about her return to in-person activities and the transition back will be an adjustment.
“I personally don’t feel that comfortable,” Rabiei said. “You can’t control what other people do.”
IU sophomore Anastasia Sullivan said she is slightly worried about returning to classes and is hopeful the university will take steps to ensure safety next semester.
“I really hope that the university continues to enforce masking rules,” Sullivan said.
She said she is excited to return for in-person events, such as clubs she is involved in like the Independent Council for Women.
James Hollenbeck, a professor of science education at IU Southeast and pandemic expert, said what makes the post-coronavirus transition scary to others is that the virus is an invisible force.
Hollenbeck said those who have lived through pandemics, especially the 1918 pandemic, continued to be obsessed with cleaning and sanitizing even after the pandemic was considered over.
“They never got completely over it,” Hollenbeck said.
Hollenbeck said he has experienced seven friends’ deaths due to the coronavirus and that is a reason why he takes the risks of the virus so seriously. He said he is being cautious about the transition back to normal life even though he will soon have his second vaccination.
“I’m apprehensive about the number of people who are not getting vaccinated, who are not following any type of protocol,” Hollenbeck said. “There’s going to be a long time before life will get back to normal.”