Faculty, staff weigh in on in-person classes

Marie Smallwood is assistant director of the Career and Professional Development Center. Photo credit: Sandler Fleurima

Karen Mitchell, an academic coach at Florida A&M University, believes that transitioning from online learning to in-person classes has been a challenge for everyone. It certainly hasn’t been easy for faculty and staff, she said.

“The transition from online learning to in-person learning has truly been a challenge we cannot avoid, especially for faculty staff members and students,” Mitchell said.

With everyone on campus asked to wear masks, Mitchell says that while it is hard for students and teachers to visually see each other, they are still able to build genuine connections.

“Class participation, emails, and Zoom meetings are ways teachers and students can form a connection with each other despite the mask mandate,” Mitchell said.

Marie Smallwood, the assistant director for FAMU’s Career and Development Center, says that if everyone is staying safe by practicing safety procedures, in-person interaction should not be a huge deal. She says that as the university continues to educate people on getting vaccinated, cases of COVID-19 should hopefully decrease.

“When everyone is being safe and doing it the proper way, it’s not that bad of a situation,”  Smallwood said. “Continuing to educate students and faculty on getting vaccinated should cause cases to go down.”

During COVID-19 many students found it difficult to stay up to date with what’s going on in the career center. As a result, the career center has implemented a new platform to accommodate students who choose to virtually stay active within the center.

“The website is user-friendly so students can have an option to choose whether they want to participate in events virtually or in person,” Smallwood said. “Students can also take surveys about whether they are practicing CDC guidelines to ensure that the ‘FAMULY’ stay safe.”

April McCray, an associate professor in the English Department, says that most faculty members have a strong fear of getting COVID in the classrooms. She also spoke about how many lives may be affected by the virus before everyone returns to remote learning.

“In-person learning has two sides; most students are happy to be back on campus with their friends, but most faculty are terrified of catching a deadly virus that’s highly contagious and more easily transmitted than what we were dealing with last year,” McCray said. “It makes me sad to think about how many lives will have to be lost before we do the right thing, and pivot to online teaching, which is safest for everyone.”

All three agreed that everyone should continue to practice safety protocols to ensure that we are keeping the “FAMULY” safe.