Montclair State Commuters React to In-Person Classes for Fall 2021 Semester

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Published May 4, 2021
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The Montclarion
Cameron Popovski attends a Zoom class. Robert Zimmerman | The Montclarion

Thanks to a decrease in positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and an increase in vaccinations across the U.S., things are beginning to open up again. Montclair State University is just one among the growing list of schools reopening their doors to students. Following an announcement from the administration, students were notified that in-person instruction will be offered in the fall 2021 semester.

While most would be excited to jump right back into the swing of things, some commuters are not particularly interested. Cameron Popovski, a junior public relations major, prefers online classes instead of commuting to campus.

“To a certain degree, classes in person can be more engaging for probably most people, but I’ve been able to adapt to the online workspace,” Popovski said. “I know it’s been hard for some people, but I actually think classes being online for me helped me. I don’t have to worry about commuting [or] not being on time for class; I can just turn on my computer and it’s all there.”

Cameron Popovski is considering in-person classes in the fall. Robert Zimmerman | The Montclarion

Cameron Popovski is considering in-person classes in the fall.
Robert Zimmerman | The Montclarion

Popovski has some in-person classes scheduled for the fall but says he would prefer to take classes online if he had the option.

Michael Camilo, a freshman commuter majoring in physics and astronomy, has a different perspective on the matter.

“[During] the first semester, to speak truthfully, I was actually quite happy that I’d be at home just because being in class, socially distanced even, is really not the same,” Camilo said. “Now that things are getting better, I would like to get back in person.”

Michael Camilo pauses to collect his thoughts regarding the discussion of in-person classes. Robert Zimmerman | The Montclarion

Michael Camilo pauses to collect his thoughts regarding the discussion of in-person classes.
Robert Zimmerman | The Montclarion

Camilo believes in-person classes are more engaging.

“Looking at a lecture digitally, you [kind of] just want to watch a video instead of being [in a] forced live lecture where you’re staring at somebody just write notes,” Camilo said. “I will definitely choose to be fully in person not only because it is preferable, as you learn more in person, but it makes things less confusing for those who commute.”

Not only are commuters feeling conflicted about in-person classes, but some of Montclair State’s own staff are too, especially those on the frontlines.

Antonio Talamo is the coordinator for the Office of Commuter Life at Montclair State and his role is to provide information to commuters.

“The first priority for us is to create programs for our commuter students on campus,” Talamo said. “We have been asked to also create in-person programs because students are here. And when they’re here, they want something, right? You’re paying for fees. You want to get connected.”

Antonio Talamo makes sure all commuters are informed with his role at Montclair State. Robert Zimmerman | The Montclarion

Antonio Talamo makes sure all commuters are informed with his role at Montclair State.
Robert Zimmerman | The Montclarion

Talamo is unsure of the plans the Office of Commuter Life has for when students return to campus but are working closely with it on a month-to-month basis.

“We’ve been doing all grab-and-go events this semester because the indoor capacity for our events [was] ten when we started the semester,” Talamo said. “Now it’s up to 30% max. Every month things are changing so quickly that it’s been difficult to readjust.”

Regarding in-person events for students, Talamo explains that students are looking forward to them.

“When we do events, students come out and you can tell that they desperately need it,” Talamo said. “We’ll be evaluating each week, each month … our game plan is to do events and follow the CDC guidelines.”

As cases continue to drop, Montclair State students await the decision from the university on what their next step will be regarding in-person instruction.

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