OSU-Cascades plans to reopen fall term for in-person learning

OSU Sophomore’s Jason Chan, Kinesiology major (left), and Andrew Talley, Accounting and Finance major (right), studying in the Learning Innovation Center. Masks are required inside OSU facilities with limited and socially distanced seating.

Luke Reynolds, OSU-Cascades Beat Reporter

With the COVID-19 vaccine being made more accessible to Oregonians and Americans, OSU-Cascades is currently planning to open its classrooms for in-person learning in the fall term.


“OSU-Cascades students can be confident that we’ll be ready to welcome them back to campus this fall, and that we’ll follow local, state and federal guidelines to help protect the campus community and the surrounding community,” said Christine Coffin, the director of communications and content strategy at OSU-Cascades.


One of the ways OSU-Cascades is planning to provide a safe transition back to in-person learning is using smaller class sizes. Due to the size of the OSU-Cascades campus, about 1,374 students compared to the Corvallis campus which has 23,266 students, almost all classes will likely be back in person this fall. 


With OSU-Cascades’ connection to the main Corvallis campus, leaders from both campuses are closely working together to resume classes fall term.


“While there may be some differences in execution because of the smaller size of classes at OSU-Cascades or because of different public health conditions in the community surrounding each campus, the goal is the same. We’re working together to bring teaching, research and service safely back to our campuses,” Coffin said.


According to Coffin, OSU-Cascades will be announcing plans for fall at a later date in April. This will include launching a website with information for students and families.


In the meantime, Coffin encourages students to sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 


For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and links to creating an appointment, OSU-Cascades students can sign up for a vaccine through Deschutes County, and students residing in Corvallis and the surrounding areas can sign up to receive a vaccine through Benton County.


“One of the most important things we encourage students, faculty and staff to do now is to seek a COVID-19 vaccination. The vaccine is free and can protect you as well as your friends, family, co-workers and peers,” Coffin said.


While OSU-Cascades is preparing to resume in-person classes this fall, students and faculty at the campus will be adjusting to the changes as well.


One student who will be adjusting back to in-person learning is Ryan Earl, who is a junior majoring in computer science at OSU-Cascades.


“Going back to in-person learning is definitely going to be an adjustment,” he said. “It has been really nice to just roll out of bed in the morning and walk over to my computer to get to class. I have some level of excitement for going back to in-person learning, but going back to the old format is something I am not sure I will be ready for.”


According to Earl, doing school remotely over the past few terms has shifted the line between his personal and school time. Traveling to a location to take classes before the pandemic happened created a barrier for him that did not exist with remote learning. Going forward, he wants to see some things from online classes be incorporated into in-person classes.


“I really think that having the ability to remotely connect to courses needs to become a permanent option because that is something that would benefit everyone,” Earl said.


He would also like to see stricter enforcement of guidelines on the OSU-Cascades campus put in place by the university. 


Yong Bakos, a professor in computer science at OSU-Cascades, is also trying to prepare for the upcoming resumption of in-person classes.


“In terms of our classwork, in our meetings and how we operate our courses is going to be just as it was prior to the pandemic, with the exception that will have larger rooms so that the people will be able to be spaced out,” he said.


According to Bakos, computer science is a very collaborative and hands-on learning experience at OSU-Cascades, which has posed some challenges.


“Usually, pre-pandemic, we would be shoulder to shoulder. Either pair programming or looking at each other’s code and being able to touch screens and touch machines and so on,” Bakos said.


He stated that the positives and negatives associated with being online the past year have impacted his teaching.


“I don’t think that I can articulate the specific things [teaching online] has removed, or taken away, or reduced or robbed, but I will say that it feels less exciting,” Bakos said.


The workload for many instructors at OSU-Cascades has increased since the pandemic began last year, as courses have had to be adapted to an online learning environment. However, Bakos feels there have been many positives that have come from teaching online as well.


“It’s really shone a light on how and what we do as instructors when operating a course, and executing pedagogical ideas and active learning and student engagement and helping students maintain focus,” he said.


Bakos feels that teaching online the past few terms has required more creativity, and he is looking forward to maintaining the benefits he has learned over the past year in his teaching. 


As for what advice he wants to give students coming back to school in the fall term, Bakos said, “If you think that magically fall term is going to come around and everything is going to be better, you’re wrong. School is still school, it takes work. It takes energy. And the world is going to be different.”


According to him, students should be making adjustments to their lives right now and treat school like a job. He is also encouraging students to get out of the house and check out the campus.


“Everyone’s situation is different. We’re not in the same boat. We’re all in the same ocean,” Bakos said.

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