On March 25th, Simmons announced their official plans to re-open their campus fully for the fall 2021 semester in an email from President Lynn Perry Wooten. For many students, staff, and faculty, this news of going back to a “semi-normal” school life was a sigh of relief.
Professor Niloufer Sohrabji, an economics professor at Simmons was “excited and optimistic,” when Simmons announced their plans to re-open in the fall.
“When I first heard of the Fall 2021 plans for Simmons I was actually pretty surprised that they had decided on 100% in person classes. There are not many schools I know of who are going fully in person in the fall. I’m really excited that Simmons decided on in person since we have been online for over a year at this point. I am definitely ready to transition back to normalcy and I think a lot of the student population is too,” wrote Sohrabji in an emailed statement.
Because of the mode of remote learning since the start of the pandemic, it has been a year of transitioning and adjustments for many individuals.
Sohrabji wrote, “in Spring of 2020, the adjustment was so much easier because of my colleagues and students. My colleagues immediately came forward and generously shared their online teaching expertise to help me (and others like me who had not taught online). My enthusiasm and energy to dive into a new mode of teaching was invigorated by the openness and positive attitude of the students who showed up every day ready to learn and make the best of a difficult situation.” said Sohrabji.
Freshman Ava McConnell, who is majoring in public health, expressed her own thoughts about this announcement.
McConnell said that while she is used to remote learning, she longs for in person classes. “Being around other people in class and making strong connections with them is something I miss and remote learning lacks,” wrote McConnell in an emailed statement.
McConnell has three more years ahead of her at Simmons to participate in in person classes and activities. However, the pandemic put a bit of a damper on her “freshman year experience.”
“Being a first year I do believe I have missed out on a lot of the first year experience. First semester was particularly hard for me since I did not know many people and it was difficult to make friendships over Zoom,” wrote McConnell. “However, I believe Simmons has done a great job at continuing to make our community as inclusive as they can at this time! I am happy I made the decision to live on campus second semester because I have made a lot of lasting friendships!”
As the spring semester has wrapped up, the anticipation of returning to campus in just four short months continues to grow. For Sohrabji, interacting with students and colleagues is something that she is looking forward to.
“I have missed having my students and advisees dropping by my office or meeting them around Simmons. I am looking forward to impromptu catch-ups with colleagues at Common Grounds or as we are on our way to class/meetings,” wrote Sohrabji. McConnell echoed Sohrabji, saying she is looking forward to just being in person for classes once again.
While the official re-opening of Simmons is still a little ways out, the university made an official announcement that it would be requiring all staff, students, and faculty that are returning on campus to be vaccinated. “I am vaccinated and I whole-heartedly support vaccinations,” wrote Sohrabji, in regards to the announcement that Simmons made.
“I definitely am appreciative of Simmons for making it a requirement to be vaccinated. It is important that we keep our community healthy and I believe this is a step in the right direction,” stated McConnell.