COVID-19’s Impact on Loyola’s In-Person Education

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By: Erin Flaviano, Loyola Junior

A huge debate continues on returning to in-person classes at Loyola. In order to test the waters, Loyola has enlisted a few professors to teach with the HyFlex model–students are both in person and remote at the same time. 

Elizabeth Lozano, a current Communications professor at Loyola University Chicago, understands Loyola’s precautions to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.  With Dr. Lozano already participating in Loyola’s HyFlex schedule, she safely teaches both in-person classes and online learning.

The university has already taken major precautions with the pandemic with not only HyFlex, but enforcing mask mandates, limiting people into buildings, giving out COVID tests, and requiring all students to go over a precautionary COVID guide before the school year started. It is clear to see Loyola has taken the pandemic seriously, but students and faculty wonder how this will go forth.

With the future of the pandemic continuing to be unpredictable, would it be safe to completely fully go back to in-person classes?

Loyola HyFlex aims to benefit those who favor learning in a classroom environment while still favoring those who choose to learn from the safety of their own home. From the perspective of a current college professor, Dr. Lozano lets us know there are still some upsides to online schooling and how Loyola will go forth with COVID-19.

Lozano is determined to create a sense of community within her classes, allowing students to feel motivated as they would be in an in-person class setting. HyFlex classes welcome students to sit in in-person classes if they wish to, but others are free to stay at home on their computer. With this schedule, Dr. Lozano is able to gain a new experience in understanding how in-person and online works simultaneously.

Lozano has been part of the Loyola community since 1993, and like many professors, she attempts to maintain a good learning experience for her students. Many students of Dr. Lozano believe she is a very interactive professor who encourages her students to be motivated in the class, even physically. Doing yoga and stretches prior to classwork starting is something Dr. Lozano favors, but it is not as easy to accomplish online.

Now with HyFlex, Loyola has the goal of bringing back this motivation though many still decide to stay at home where it’s safe. Dr. Lozano tells us how she is able to keep her students inclined in classwork while still being online.

*Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

RogersEdge Reporter: What are some positive aspects that come with online school?

Lozano: I check in with my students in the Zoom chat box. I can ask them questions and comments and then highlight them to the entire class. They can also talk to each other without bothering the professor, like they can check in with each other and how they are doing. It’s something different that you cannot do face to face. It’s a sense of community.

RER: Since you are already handling HyFlex, how is the experience?

Lozano: People are able to communicate with each other and go through good interactions with HyFlex, without interrupting. [Also] with the screens, I cannot see everyone at the same time and some people’s cameras are off so I am not distracted by all these things… There is good in this technology; dealing with this is definitely a new experience.

RER: How much easier is it than just completely online?

Lozano: The problem is when you go online and you expect us to act the same way we do in in-person, you are going to be so disappointed because it is nothing like that [in-person classes]. But this technology did help me learn and be better with certain things… which I plan to implement when we are face-to-face.

RER: Personally, how confident do you feel with how Loyola has treated COVID?

Lozano: I feel confident. I actually volunteered to do that next semester. Loyola has been very responsible, I could tell just with HyFlex. I get tested weekly and students get tested bi-weekly if they are on campus. The rate of positive cases on campus has been extremely low. People seem to be respecting them [the guidelines]. Loyola is following the CDC, the government’s policy… they’re not being close-minded.

RER: Personally, how comfortable do you feel with Loyola going back to in-person classes completely with zero remote learning?

Lozano: I’m not at high-risk, but that doesn’t mean other people aren’t. But I do not know what Loyola is going to do exactly. What I see exactly is people can stay home if they want to, in other words it’s HyFlex, what we’re already doing. There are limitations but students should not be put at risk or [take the risk] with the people they live with. People will definitely complain because it’s not a simple thing to deal with.

Students and faculty are still waiting to see how the rest of the school year will play out, this will hopefully create the scene of what school life will be like over the next few years.

A wide range of opinions have come to the light since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of the next year, Loyola will soon decide how social gatherings and resuming classwork will go.

For more information about COVID-19, visit cdc.gov

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