During the first day of classes Wednesday at the University of Wisconsin, students reported technical difficulties and challenges with the hybrid of online and in-person learning.
An undergraduate student, who chose to remain anonymous, said they had a class that posted viewable lecture times, but it was still unclear if the class was going to be in-person or online. The class was listed as synchronous, but when the student showed up for the lecture, they discovered it was asynchronous when the professor did not show up in the lecture’s real-time video space.
“I went into the [virtual] room, and there were just a bunch of my classmates there, but there was no professor,” Anonymous said.
Despite the issue, the student said they think all professors are doing their best to put everything together and figure out how this semester is going to work. Though, they also said they felt nervous as they saw some students on campus not wearing masks or social distancing.
They said they believe UW might switch to a virtual semester sooner than the November date if the disregard for the guidelines continues.
Carli Kollross, a sophomore majoring in Neurobiology, said her first day of this semester felt different than the previous spring semester’s sudden virtual shift because her classes started out online.
“I feel that the University has done a good job of doing things, like being more prepared than they were when we were online in the spring,” Kollross said. “Things are more ordered and structured, which helps students and teachers both get back in the swing of how school is going to work.”
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Kollross said she had a discussion with technical glitches, but she said it seems those will decrease as the semester progresses.
Though, Kollross said she still feels apprehensive about this semester, since her labs will mainly be online.
On the day classes started, the positive test percent for UW students increased to 3.8%, according to the UW Smart Restart dashboard. This rate is double the percentage of the university’s positive test rate last week.
“I would like to think everyone is [following COVID-19 guidelines], but I’m sure there are people who aren’t,” Kollross said.
In an email sent to UW students, Dean of Students Christina Olstad said though she’s seen most students following public health guidelines for COVID-19, her office has encountered students and registered student organizations not following university requirements.
Olstad said UW will take disciplinary action with the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards and University Housing.
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“For individuals who have intentionally behaved in ways that risk the health of our community, we are pursuing actions that could result in discipline up to and including the revocation of Housing contracts and emergency suspension,” Olstad said in the email statement.
Students who are suspended could lose access to classes at UW, and registered student organizations in violation could face numerous sanctions that may include suspension or termination, Olstad said.