Schools consider face-to-face instruction as COVID-19 cases decrease


Corey Kurylo

President Joe Biden announced Tuesday, March 2, that the administration is striving to vaccinate grade K-12 teachers with their first coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines by the end of this March. He also declared that national vaccination levels are moving vastly ahead of schedule. The U.S. is on track to administer the first vaccine shot to every American adult by the end of May — two months ahead of the previously stated goal.  

As pressure mounts to reopen schools and businesses across the country, COVID-19 continues to present lingering issues as positive case results have averaged roughly 65,000 nationwide over the last seven days. Though this number is alarming and includes over 7,000 additional deaths amid the week-long stretch, the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) confirmed over a 73% decrease in positive cases over the past seven weeks. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbot announced March 2 that Texas had dropped the state-wide mask mandate and will re-enter full-scale operations, allowing for the reopening of schools and businesses. Texas is now the sixteenth state that does not require facial protection, a safeguard continuously preached by Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the President. The state recorded over 8,000 new positive cases this past Monday.  

The pandemic has created numerous issues outside of the hospitalizations, deaths, and the financial and small business crisis that has stricken the nation. Studies, including research by Healthline, have indicated that young adults, especially college students, have been negatively affected by isolation and are struggling with anxiety and depression connected to quarantine requirements. Students entering their first year of college have also had a non-traditional college experience. Currently, the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) strict social distancing requirements have hindered the essential social aspect of attending college and interacting with young adults and professionals. 

Face-to-face learning offers students both definitive study and research abilities and access to in-person assistance from professors and teacher assistants than remote-based learning. UNH President James Dean announced, “resuming in-person classes Wednesday gives us two days to ensure technology is working and provides flexibility for thoughtful transition to minimize any negative impact on learning. Some classes are easier to transition than others.”  

Strafford County contains the UNH campus, and most of the Seacoast has experienced over 7,000 cumulative positive cases and nearly 100 deaths on account of the outbreak. UNH reported 385 positive cases during the week of Feb. 8 through Feb. 14, causing the university to switch to remote learning. Cases have decreased over the past two weeks, and the college has switched back to its  face-to-face class operations.  

Faculty and students of UNH look forward to the university operating at full-scale levels as soon as possible, though it is the responsibility of every community member to play their part in practicing social distancing and follow the state-mandated use of mask protection in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.  

Dean also preached last week that students “[should] continue to stay vigilant and again, thank you for your commitment to our public health guidelines and efforts to slow the spread.”  

Any student or faculty member experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms or emotional distress should Health & Wellness, or email [email protected] or call the UNH COVID-19 hotline (603) 862-2020 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. with concerns.