Given that many members of the Wellesley community traveled during Thanksgiving break and the ongoing pandemic, all classes were held remotely between Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, 2021 to accommodate the testing schedules and in-room restrictions of students and faculty members returning to campus.
While remote learning only lasted for three days, the brief return to online classes after more than three months of in-person instruction was a strange transition for many.
“[We were] back on Zoom for the couple of days after Thanksgiving, and for me, it brought back many memories of all last year being on Zoom and a little bit for the year before that,” said Daniel Sichel, professor of economics. “It mostly brought back memories of ‘Oh gosh, I wish we could be doing this in person,’ because it’s just so much easier and more effective to be in a classroom with students and be able to have a conversation with students and interact, rather than talk to a camera.”
Even though remote learning was only temporary this year, the overall ineffectiveness of online education is still a lingering concern among faculty, such as the inability of Zoom classes to convey bodied languages of students to the professor, especially about difficult topics, which is something the online experience takes away.
“Zooming once is not a big deal, but in general, I find Zoom classes incredibly impoverishing,” said Lidwien Kapteijns, professor of history. “This idea of what makes Wellesley Wellesley is that you’re learning in groups of highly intelligent and hardworking students who engage with seriousness, and that is one thing you miss on Zoom.”
However, despite the setbacks with remote learning, students such as Elaine Shao ’25 still had a positive experience with the online sessions.
“I really liked the Zoom classes because the lectures were still very high-quality and I didn’t need to walk in the cold to the classroom,” said Shao.
Moreover, while the temporary Zoom classes and in-room restrictions were inefficient for many students, other students like Veronica Lin ’24 thought that it was the right move for the health and safety of our community.
“Despite the fact that I couldn’t see my friends during in-room restrictions and Zoom classes were not as productive, I really appreciated the school’s post-Thanksgiving COVID policies,” said Lin. “During Thanksgiving break, I visited a family friend who goes to college in the South, and she told me that her school does not do mandatory COVID testing and a lot of people got sick. I am super grateful that Wellesley is taking the pandemic seriously and looking out for students’ health.”