Classes are going to resume in person in the upcoming Fall 2021 semester

UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout and UW-River Falls are opening classrooms


Photo by Reonna Huettner

The UW-Eau Claire Chancellor’s Office released an in-person instruction announcement for the fall 2021 semester.

Announcements to move to in-person classes this fall

On Feb. 18, the UW-System president, Tommy Thompson, sent out an immediate release statement in regards to the maximization of in-person instruction for the upcoming fall semester. 

Shortly after, a joint released statement of the western UW-Colleges was sent out to students with the three chancellor’s statements. The western UW-Colleges include: UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout and UW-River Falls, where all the schools are making the commitment to reopen classrooms for in-person instruction.

“The opportunity to engage with their fellow students and our amazing faculty and staff is such a critical part of the Blugold experience,” James C. Schmidt, chancellor for UW-Eau Claire, said. “And our community benefits as well as we bring back our students for the fall semester.”

The statement also acknowledged the university will have several factors to consider regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, but will continue to address situations with the priority of putting health and safety first as they come. 

Although the universities are committed to reopen in the fall, many Blugolds hold different opinions as to what UW-Eau Claire should do. 

Blugolds give opinions on the in-person instruction debate 

Students who think classes should be reopened next semester based their opinions on the rate of vaccinations, the usage of masks and the continuation of safety protocols which will create and maintain a safe space for students to return to campus. 

Izzy Pogorzelki, a second-year Spanish education student, is one of the students who wants in-person instruction next fall. 

“Enough people will be vaccinated by then so that we will be safe,” Pogorzeki said. “I do think that mask should still be worn to some extent.”

Pogorzeki also said that she was excited to be back in person because the amount of tuition being charged to attend UW-Eau Claire would accurately reflect the education being received. 

A second student, Jonathan Goodwin, a second-year computer science student, echoed part of Pogorzeki’s response by agreeing that campus should open up for in-person instruction based on vaccination rates and tuition prices. 

“I’m glad I will be able to attend and get the education I’m paying for,” Goodwin said. “I personally applaud the administration’s decision and can’t wait to return to campus.”

Another group of students reportedly felt the opposite and said the university should remain online for the fall. 

These students think that the pandemic is far from over — that even with safety regulations and masks, their health is still being put at risk, and that although online is not a preferred method, it is better than risking it. 

“I think it’s incredibly irresponsible to expect students to attend fully in person when there’s a deadly virus,” Mckenna Podbrscek, a second-year undeclared student, said.

Podrscek also said she feels as though the announcement of in-person classes was to encourage incoming freshmen to select UW-Eau Claire.

Katrina Berg, a third-year public health and environmental geography student, said it sounded like a broken promise and that they are only announcing in-person classes to make next year’s freshmen feel like they should enroll here. 

“Them making the announcement right now when the high school class of 2021 is making decisions on where they should go to college makes me think they are announcing it off money, not health,” Berg said. 

Either way, Berg said the announcement itself was too soon and that people don’t actually know if attending in-person instruction will be safe enough in the fall. 

Although some students are strongly on one side, other students appear to think UW-Eau Claire should go in person for classes, but also provide students with the opportunity to attend online if it is their preferred method.

Ramiro Vazques, a second-year psychology student, said he thinks students should be given an option based on their level of comfort. 

“As long as we have the freedom to choose and we still take preventive measures,” Vazques said, “I think we can slowly go back to normal by fall.” 

Currently, UW-Eau Claire’s announcement will stand and in-person instruction will occur in the upcoming fall semester. 

Huettner can be reached at [email protected].