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Class formats continue to change despite semester beginning

As professors and students alike prepared for classes to begin on Jan. 25, courses across Miami University continued to change their format only days before the start of the spring semester.

Though most students finished registering for classes in the fall, some courses have recently begun to switch from in-person or hybrid to fully remote.

Per the Healthy Together webpage, the university will continue to address concerns about physical distancing within classrooms, and each academic department will continue to offer a wide range of content delivery. The site does not detail when course formats can be changed or what to do if a course changes in the future.

First-year political science major Sam Warnecke has had two courses, FST 362 (Mafia and Cinema) and PHL 273 (Formal Logic), switch from hybrid synchronous to fully online. Though both courses are still listed as hybrid synchronous on Miami’s course list, their syllabi don’t list any in-person plans.

“I wanted my schedule to be a mix of in-person and online classes, which is why I tried to sign up for classes that had both,” Warnecke said. “I’m disappointed that I won’t get to go to any classes in-person this semester, but I can’t say this was unexpected.”

While Warnecke recognizes the need to keep classes online in order to remain healthy, he said the lack of communication between faculty and students raises concerns.

“A course should not be listed as hybrid if there’s zero mention of moving to in-person [classes] throughout the entire syllabus,” Warnecke said. “Moving online probably was in everyone’s best interest, but a better heads-up would have been appreciated.”

In an email sent to faculty in December, Miami announced that it expects to return to in-person classes as early as this summer and no later than the fall semester.

“The hard work, grit, and determination of the faculty and staff enabled us to successfully navigate the fall semester,” university officials wrote. “We have every reason to believe we will also have a successful spring semester.”

However, some students think the university hasn’t done enough to support students throughout the pandemic, and that continuously changing schedules allows for more confusion.

First-year English education major Emily Brace was scheduled to have two in-person classes this semester, EDT 284 (Writing for Educators) and EDL 204 (Sociocultural Studies in Education), but she received emails from her professors last week stating they were moving fully online. Despite this, both classes are currently listed as hybrid synchronous on the course list and have assigned in-person meeting times.

“One professor told us she was moving the class because of health concerns, but the other one didn’t give a reason,” Brace said. “We just got an email like, ‘We’ll be meeting online this semester,’ and didn’t address the fact that we were supposed to be in-person.”

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“If they knew [those classes] couldn’t be in-person, then don’t advertise it as that,” Brace said. “Make sure that before you put a class as in-person, the professor is dedicated to doing that.”

Brace says the sudden online push of her classes makes her regret coming back to Oxford. 

“I just wish they had told us earlier, ’cause if I’d known in advance that all my classes would be online, then maybe I would’ve saved thousands of dollars and not come on campus, ” Brace said. “I really have no reason to be here now.”