LOGAN — After Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced Thursday all Utah System of Higher Education courses will be moved online, Utah State University professors and students were told they have until Tuesday to transition — classes will be canceled in the interim while professors scramble to make the switch.
“It feels like we’re living in an alternate reality, it doesn’t really seem real,” said Jocelyn Polansky, a member of the USU Women’s basketball team and a freshman psychology major. “It’s definitely been really shocking especially with the March madness news, we’re sad for the men’s team because they won’t be able to get their bid in the tournament.”
Some students took to social media to express excitement over classes being canceled.
Others, particularly USU seniors, expressed disappointment in ending their college careers so abruptly and shared concern if commencement ceremonies were to be canceled — which USU has not made a decision on yet.
“I think the university is making the right moves, and doing what is necessary to protect us and more vulnerable populations,” USU senior and psychology major Tarren Jessop said. “I support those actions. But I also feel justified in my mourning of the experiences I and many others will no longer have.”
While some departments are prepared to transition online with little change, others require abundances of hands-on work and are facing difficulties in moving courses online.
“We are looking at this on a course-by-course and case-by-case basis,” said Keith Roper, professor and biological engineering department head. “Some of our lab courses have an opportunity to be done virtually, then there are there are situations where students are working in laboratories and needing to use equipment to work.”
Roper said professors in the College of Engineering plan to use the next several days before the Tuesday deadline to plan which labs can transition online and which require in-person work.
“The university has said under certain circumstances those labs can continue,” Roper said. “Provided the professor is not 60 or older, we have the opportunity to bring in those students and have them practice social isolation while still completing their lab work.” Roper added students could be asked to do lab work in smaller groups and will be asked to practice extra precautions and sanitary methods.
Roper also said students in his department have shown a “really mature” attitude toward the change.
“The first reaction is ‘woohoo’ no classes for three days,” Roper said. “But they understand this is being done in universities throughout Utah and the US, they’re watching to see how the university and how their professors are following these procedures in a way that maintains the quality of their education.”
Campus facilities, such as the library, dining halls and rec centers, are still open and the university has not yet released information on if they will stay open permanently.
Campus events, such as the annual “Pow Wow,” open mic nights, campus tours and intramural sports, will be canceled until April 8.
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— President Duffin (@GageCarling) March 12, 2020