Students, faculty share mixed emotions on reopening plans

Weeks away from the start of the semester, students and faculty grapple with uncertainty

Aziah Siid, Campus News Editor

Since rising sophomore Sianni Dixon’s grandmother died from coronavirus, she has experienced more uncertainty around returning to campus. 

As a granddaughter, she witnessed the devastating effects that virus exposure can have first-hand. As an undergraduate student, deciding to not return to face-to-face instruction may negatively impact the quality of her education. 

“Since then my mom has been very, very cautious about everything I do when I travel,” she explained. “We sat down and had a really long talk about me going back to college. She did not want me to go and she expressed she was not comfortable with me going back.” 

Dixon, a dancer for the Morgan State band, said although reluctant, she will be returning for in-person classes. However, she fears that her peers may not respect the safety guidelines put in place. 

“Everybody doesn’t have the mindset of, ‘I’m going to sanitize and I’m going to wear my mask and I’m not going to make sure that I don’t have random people in the room with my roommate because of her circumstance,’” Dixon said. 

Dixon didn’t have the best experience last spring with online learning, so she’s willing to follow Morgan’s guidelines to take those face-to-face. 

Alexander Freeman, rising junior and student government association president, advocated for a plan that was as inclusive as possible, taking into account members of the student body who may be negatively affected by only online learning. 

“We should always be open to all sides in every decision we make,” Freeman said. “ If some students don’t want to come to the university and we say everything is going to be remote, we are neglecting the many other students who need the in-person experience. I also know students who don’t have homes, so for you to say everything will be remote we’re disregarding their needs.”

With 11,406 confirmed cases in Baltimore, according to the Maryland Department of Health, there are students and faculty who feel uncomfortable with the thought of coming back to campus for three months and appreciate the university giving them the option to stay home. 

Megan DeVirgilis, assistant professor of Spanish, said she is pleased to see the university taking students and faculty preference into account in the revised reopening plan and intends on teaching solely remotely. 

“It’s clear that the majority of students and faculty feel safer operating remotely, and as a faculty member, I feel an immense sense of relief that I can now perform my job responsibilities safely and effectively from home,” she said. 

In the most recent reopening plan, University President David Wilson said faculty members have the option of face-to-face instruction or all-online. On Thursday the university announced mandatory coronavirus testing for all students and faculty returning to campus.  

Freeman said that Morgan is setting an example for other universities based on how they’ve handled students’ needs thus far. 

“We are literally leading everyone,” he said. “ We’ve created committees that delve deep into our issues to find great solutions.”