SSU has expanded the implementation of face-to-face classes since the second semester of 2021. However, while students’ opinions on the conduct of face-to-face classes were divided, ST analyzed the details and the progress of the expansion of face-to-face classes in schools. Will we be able to return to our original state, and take classes safely in the classroom?...........................................................Ed
Having already become familiar with non-face-to-face classes due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Soongsilians are facing a new phase. In May, SSU Student Council conducted a survey on how to operate classes in the second semester. Soongsilians commanded a better learning environment through face-toface classes, and professors also agreed. In September, SSU announced that it would conduct face-to-face classes in the second semester.
However, some doubted SSU’s unconventional move. As of October 6, only 25% of classes in all the colleges nationwide are conducting face-to-face classes. In the case of SSU, it took a long time for face-to-face classes to be officially announced, causing plenty of inconvenience to Soongsilians. Due to the increased risk of the fourth wave of the pandemic, the university announced that all face-to-face classes would be converted into video lectures or a combination of both approaches.
The notice, which was announced after the sixth week of the second semester of 2021, is as follows. First, they recommended COVID-19 vaccination and asked to respond to the investigation. Second, regardless of vaccination, PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests were conducted twice in total, and negative results were confirmed prior to entry in the school. Soongsilians expressed dissatisfaction with the mandatory testing. There was criticism over the university’s decision to impose PCR tests because it was only announced three days before the conduct of face-toface classes, in addition to the inconvenience of the PCR test itself.
In response, SSU posted an additional notice on October 1, which said that “all faceto-face classes can be converted to real-time video lectures in consultation with students, and provide two teaching methods so that they can choose from face-to-face and non-face-to-face classes.” As such, SSU made it mandatory for faculty to combine realtime video classes and face-to-face classes for students, but there were also side effects from the mixed method.
In the case of a major course that started its first face-to-face class, broadcasting equipment did not perform up to par, so it was necessary to check the broadcast conditions from time to time during class. In the case of Soongsilians who were taking video classes, they encountered several problems, such as poor sound reception or reversed screens. Soongsilians have been raising questions about the effectiveness of face-to-face classes in parallel with real-time online lectures because the quality of online classes has decreased, compared to pre-recorded lectures.
Furthermore, problems were raised in the university’s response to outsiders entering the school. Even amid the COVID-19 situation, residents continued to enter SSU in residential areas around the campus. In response, the university did not take any measures to restrict access, and raised concerns about COVID-19 infection among students in face-to-face classes. So, PCR tests are conducted only on students, and the Student Union, which is the most accessible to outsiders, does not separately manage entry, adding to Soongsillians’ criticism.
On October 12, SSU asked for understanding by informing students that the school enforced PCR testing to provide highquality face-to-face classes to students because the COVID-19 situation was prolonged, and students’ motivation to live was affected. Moreover, starting October 18, those who have completed the second round of COVID-19 vaccination can enter the school only by measuring their body temperature. SSU gave a sorry message for the sudden progress of the situation, and ended the notice by recommending face-to-face classes as much as possible because the quality of non-face-to-face classes in parallel to face-to-face classes has no alternative but to broadcast face-to-face classes.
However, after the previous announcement, Soongsilians had to suffer from another confusing development. “SSU has been preparing face-to-face lectures since July. We decided that faceto-face lectures should be held for the freshmen and sophomores who lost their sense of belonging and relationship as a university member. Face-to-face classes began on October 6th, and will be 100% next month.” This was what Jang Beom-sik, president of SSU, said at his interview with The Maeil Business Newspaper on October 19. The interview was more like the declaratory expression of the strong will for Soongsil to initiate face-to-face classes among universities in Korea, but Soongsilians received the news on face-to-face classes in November without receiving additional notices from the school’s Student Council, SSU:TART, and the academic team.
As the controversy grew, the school affairs committee notice in an e-mail on October 29 said that the president’s interview was somewhat misleading, and aimed at emphasizing SSU’s leading response efforts to a large number of unspecified general days. Therefore, they reaffirmed that there was no change from the previously announced class policy.
Reforms are bound to bring confusion to everyone, always. Even when the novel coronavirus first broke out, they would have taken the same path by conducting non-face-to-face classes. Now that we are in the transition period amid the complex situation of COVID-19, it seems necessary to set up a compromise between SSU and students on future moves.
Kang Seung-wan (ST Reporter)
Kim Tae-eun (ST Reporter)