As of the first day of class, it has been 523 days since App State students received an email alerting them that spring break would be extended for one week, allowing the university and the world time to better understand COVID-19.
That amount of time, 523 days, is plenty long enough to forget a thing or two about learning in an actual classroom and going to school in an actual building. Here are a few things students should know when returning to in-person learning.
The quick, breezy commute from bed to desk is a thing of the past. Now students are once again forced to perform morning tasks like making coffee and cooking breakfast before class instead of during it. No longer are the days of waking up at 7:55 a.m. for an 8 a.m. class; students must wake up leaving adequate time to prepare for the day, drive or bus to campus and find their way into the classroom.
Pants are no longer optional, but this is App State, so you only need to wear shoes if you feel like it.
The classroom itself will be a startling sight. There will be students everywhere, none of whom will have their names displayed below their faces nor the ability to turn their faces off. Students can no longer private message a Zoom classmate to confirm that they too have no idea what is happening. Hang in there.
Zoom silence is awkward, but awkward silence in real life is a whole ‘nother ball game. If you sit there long enough, someone else is bound to start talking.
Should one decide that there is nothing to be learned in today’s lecture, it is not as simple as zoning out and scrolling through Twitter. No, they must actually sit in the classroom until the time is up, desperately avoiding the urge to take a nap.
But overall, the students can rejoice and take pleasure in returning to the things they once took for granted. They can ditch the blue light glasses in favor of looking their classmates in the eye. They can make a clear, defining line between their school lives and their personal lives. They can attend office hours, go to a football game and watch Luke Combs sing about what happens when it rains. They can look at dozens of walls each day as opposed to the same ones they have been closely observing for almost a year and a half.