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Shepherd students go back to school for second semester

By Iyee Jagne - For the Chronicle | Jan 29, 2021

A sign directs people to the COVID-19 testing location on Shepherd University's campus this winter. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Due to the ongoing pandemic, Shepherd University has adopted guidelines to ensure all returning students stay safe, including wearing face masks for in-person classes.

While in the past, lecture hall seats were a free-for-all, now they are marked off with signs, to keep six feet social distance between students. For example, a lecture hall that can seat 197, only seats 23 students now. Lecture halls feature two taped-off rows, with signs marking them off. Past those two rows is one available row that seats three people. The pattern of skipping two rows continues throughout each lecture hall room.

Exercise science major Edwina Heroe has in-person classes this semester. Heroe said she prefers Zoom classes, like she did last semester, rather than being on-campus.

“I think the guidelines are useful if people follow them,” Heroe said, mentioning she has seen many students not follow them, especially in dining areas. “People stand too close to each other in line when getting food.”

Professor Karen Gardner has also been concerned with the length of time students are together in the same room.

“I feel that in some cases, in-person classes are necessary, because hands-on learning is difficult over Zoom,” Gardner said, mentioning that “in-person sessions should be kept short, to less than an hour if possible.”

“Shepherd has done a great job getting members of its staff vaccinated, so that makes more in-person instruction possible as the semester progresses,” Gardner said, mentioning she approves of the university’s social distancing guidelines. “They are useful. I don’t know about students, but for adjunct instructors, they are helpful. The students are willing to meet on Zoom and the university has made it easy for students and staff to use Zoom. I use Zoom as much as possible, and reserve in-person instruction to once a week.”

Aside from the in-person class changes the spring semester calendar has also changed. This semester is shorter than usual. Rather than starting on Jan. 13 and ending on May 1.

The semester started on Jan. 19 and will end on April 30, because there will be no spring break this semester. In addition, to help combat the further spread of COVID-19, all students are required to fill out a daily mandatory health check form.