We've been online for four weeks. How are students feeling?

While some students enjoyed the flexibility of online classes, they are also excited to return in person instruction.

In late December 2021, UBC made the decision to deliver classes remotely for the first two weeks of term two due to the rise in COVID-19 cases caused by the highly-transmissible Omicron variant. On January 12, the university extended the period of online classes to February 7.

Last week, UBC announced that classes would be in person again starting February 7.

With in-person classes starting on Monday, The Ubyssey spoke to students from various faculties to understand how they have coped with online classes.

Allison Lin is a third-year dietetics student in the faculty of land and food systems. For her, the initial December announcement, while disappointing, came as no surprise.

“Having in-person classes again last term was really enjoyable for me, but at the same time I can’t say I was too surprised with how things went with the last exam season and with the number of cases at the end of December.”

She said that the initial online period provided her with much-needed flexibility, as both she and her partner tested positive for COVID-19 just days before the beginning of the semester.

Lin said she was frustrated with the university’s announcement to extend online classes to February 7 because she thought it was poorly communicated.

“I feel like [UBC’s method of communication] is very reactive; I wish they were more proactive with their policies”.

This is a sentiment shared by other students like Connor Cahoon, a third-year student in the faculty of science. However, he also felt that UBC didn’t have a choice given the rapidly changing status of Omicron.

Like many students, Cahoon was able to spend more time with his family, particularly with his grandmother, when classes were initially kept online, but he is ready to go back.

“I don’t mind doing them online, but I'd just rather be in-person.”

For him, the biggest issue with remote learning is the reduced social interaction. “That’s by far the main part I miss. I feel like the actual learning I can handle in-person or online, but socially it's much better in-person.”

Still, he thinks his computer science courses worked well remotely, mentioning the convenience of typing code on online assignments rather than having to write it down on paper.

Dr. Sarah Otto, a faculty member in the department of zoology and a member of BC’s COVID-19 Modelling Group, said that UBC’s decisions to keep classes online are well in line with the science.

“We knew that Omicron was going to come like a tidal wave in British Columbia [in December], and so even with the early reports that it might be in many cases less severe, what we did know is that infections happen quickly and risked a large fraction of the community all at once and overwhelming hospitals.”

For Otto, any steps taken by the university to ensure that the healthcare system isn’t strained any further are ideal and appropriate. She also said that having classes temporarily online keeps individuals living with vulnerable family members and loved ones from having to make difficult decisions at a time of high caseloads and community spread.

At the time of the interview, which was before UBC’s announcement on the return of in-person classes, Otto expressed reservations about the February 7 date, citing a yet-to-peak hospitalization curve. She also said that UBC should consider that most students won’t have had their booster shots by early February.

The Ubyssey has reached out to Otto for an updated comment following UBC's announcement that classes will be in person starting February 7.