Opinion: Campus plans for the fall look bright


According to Suffolk University’s website, plans for the fall 2021 semester look bright as campus and student life expect to open at full capacity, in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. This news is very exciting to students after a long year of strict policies that prevented normal activities on campus. 

This was definitely the right decision for Suffolk to make after over two semesters of stress and isolation since the virus outbreak in March 2020. As long as conditions stay the same and another flare-up does not occur, students can remain hopeful for September. 

With this reopening plan, individuals living on campus will be able to feel more connected to their fellow peers as they are allowed to attend in-person programs and events. 

As a residential student myself this past year, I experienced firsthand that most Suffolk students faced many restraints that hindered their experience and sense of community. Residents were not permitted to have roommates and were only allowed one guest in their room at a time. They could rarely attend in-person events. Less rigid safety guidelines this fall will allow people to share rooms again and participate in clubs, athletics, programs and events at the normal volume.

The majority of classes this coming semester will be in-person, with some online and a small amount in the Hyflex format. As the university returns to face-to-face learning, students will be able to engage more in their learning process, make friends easier, connect on assignments and overall enjoy a communal learning environment. 

Virtual learning has been a challenge for many reasons. When the pandemic first started, many students were not able to learn in this online format due to technical issues or lack of access to a computer, according to the World Economic Forum. In the U.S., there was a large gap between privileged and disadvantaged students, making logging into class every day extremely difficult or impossible for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Returning to in-person classes will be much more effective for all. 

With the severity of the pandemic, it is understandable that some students are not comfortable with this agenda for the fall. COVID-19 still poses a risk to many, and it is true that not everyone in Boston will opt to get the vaccination.

According to the CDC’s Guiding Principles, it is important to keep in mind that if a person repeatedly interacts with others, there is more of a chance for COVID-19 to spread the longer that interaction lasts. It is essential that everyone continues to wash hands often, wear masks and social distance. 

Suffolk’s intentions for full capacity could create a stressful situation and discourage some students from returning to campus. The transition back to in-person classes will be overwhelming and will take some adjusting. Many individuals at the university have not attended a face-to-face class in over a year.

It is important for students to do what is best for them at their own pace. Although many are ready to come back to campus and pick up where they left off last spring, it is critical to recognize that this progression to a fully functioning term will be a long process. 

Suffolk is working hard to keep the safety of students a priority, and has emphasized there are preparations in place for a possible switch to online classes in fall 2021 if necessary. With these plans in place, students can be assured that if another outbreak does occur, the university is ready with a solution.