Georgetown attempts trial of in-person classes as spring semester nears

November 10, 2020

A hallway in the ICC.

Over the past few weeks, Georgetown enacted a pilot program for a select group of students to attend in-person classes.  

The program was offered to eligible students through email in late October and emphasized involvement as completely voluntary. The email listed safety precautions and procedures that would be required for participating students, including COVID-19 testing twice a week. All desks are six feet apart and every person must wear a mask.  

The majority of participants are seniors or graduate students, who are more likely to live near campus and have been speculated to be a priority for the spring semester. 

Colin Mills (MSB ’21) and Alex Valin (MSB ’21)  were already living in the Georgetown neighborhood when they were invited to attend an in-person class. Their Strategic Management (STRT230) course is made up of three sections, each consisting of about 45 students. Beginning Nov. 2, roughly 25 students from the third section took the class in-person, while the other 20 remained virtual. The professor was able to adapt to a hybrid model, streaming on Zoom while he also taught in a classroom. 

“I actually really was excited to go to campus and be in class, and because it was safe, I felt confident doing that. I jumped at the opportunity,” Mills said. 

According to Mills, the in-person classes are run essentially the same as those before the pandemic and are preferable to the online learning experience. “You’re sitting a little further apart, but just being in class I think is more conducive to my ability to focus and pay attention than online classes.” Mills said. 

“I just feel much more engaged when I’m actually in person,” Valin added. 

The program includes three undergraduate courses and 14 graduate courses across the schools, with class sizes ranging from seven to 36 students, according to a university spokesperson. “These pilots are an important step in helping us to gain further knowledge about the processes and procedures that might be necessary for future hybrid courses on the Georgetown campus,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to the Voice. 

In an email sent out earlier this month, President John DeGioia said the university plans to finalize a decision on the spring by Nov. 16. 

Mills does see a possibility for the model to be extended to other classes. 

“I think the size that we did it on Monday is absolutely, totally safe,” Mills added, referring to the conference room where their class is held. “I trust Georgetown and their ability to make the classroom safe and follow COVID-19 precautions.” 

However, Valin was unsure if the program would work for larger classes, where spacing could present more of a challenge. 

“I don’t know how scalable this is because they have a group of kids in the largest lecture hall they have. I don’t know if they can do that in every classroom because they don’t have the space,” Valin said.

The New York Times has reported more than 35,000 COVID-19 cases within U.S. colleges since early October, and over 207,000 total cases since late July. 

Sophie Tafazzoli
Sophie is an assistant news editor and a sophomore in the College studying Government and pursuing a minor in Journalism. She is currently living in Los Angeles and loves a good icebreaker.

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