'I hope this happens': Western University plans to resume in-person classes come fall
LONDON, ONT. -- After months of Western University students adapting to online-learning, they may be returning to in-class learning come this fall.
In a release, the president of Western University, Alan Shepard, said the possibility is coming 'clearer into focus'.
Western first year student, Anthony Caracciolo, said he’s looking forward to the change.
"Really excited. I hope this happens. If it doesn’t, I would be really disappointed. I just want the actual experience of University.”
Student, Aisha Imana experienced online classes and in-person classes over the course of her first year at the university.
Imana said she hopes the University will have a hybrid option for students next school year.
"To be honest, I am an in-person learner, so I really do appreciate the mixed model to do stuff online but then also being able to come in person."
Shepard thanked students and staff for their heroics during the pandemic, adding that a resume to face-to-face classes will be dependent on vaccine availability and student and staff vigilance.
"As vaccines become more readily available over the spring and summer, and as the Western community continues to remain vigilant both on and off campus, we’re increasingly confident of these plans."
Matthew Wong, first-year student, said he’s looking forward to the potential of a full-year on campus, after months of Zoom classes and lectures.
"It’s been pretty difficult…it’s been pretty tough just learning through textbooks and videos."
Along with classes, Shepard said that residences will also open come September.
Lambton Hall, an upper-year student apartment will be covered into a suite-style residence for first-year students bringing the total number of residences at Western to 10.
While many students moved rapidly into remote work and online instructions, Shepard said the University saw some benefits to these new approaches.
"As we plan for the fall, we’ll be looking at ways to incorporate the best of what we’ve learned into the curriculum and into our work where it makes most sense."
Akhilesh Prasad, a graduating student at Western, said he enjoyed many aspects of learning from home during the pandemic.
"Learning from home was actually more productive than I thought it would be, I could control my schedule, I could study when I wanted to and go at my own pace."
Future graduate school student, Andy Cowley, said he is cautiously optimistic about the announcement.
"I am hoping for the best, but I don’t see it being a complete return right away, I think it will be gradual increase… and if I want to stay home and be on zoom I probably still can."
While students are excited about the possibility, it all depends on how the region is coping with COVID-19 come fall.
"We will continue to consult with our campus leaders and work in lockstep with Middlesex-London Health Unit officials to ensure campus is a safe place for everyone."
Shepard added that the health and safety of the campus community remains Western’s top priority.
"While we may not be able to predict with absolute certainty what the COVID-19 situation will be like in the fall, our community will provide the engaging experience our students and their families value – all in a research and learning environment that everyone expects of a world-class university like Western."