Posted on: November 19, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Mariah Trujillo, JRN 101 Student

Staring at your professor and classmates on a screen just isn’t the same as interacting face-to-face, students are saying.

Moraine is listening. While most spring courses will remain online, the college is doubling the number of classes offered in a hybrid format, which includes some on-campus instruction.

“You don’t get the same face-to-face interactions with your professor when in an online class,” said student Eleas Eshftari. “Also, it’s even more of a challenge because if you’re struggling in a class you don’t have anyone to physically help you.”

Moraine surveyed students through email, and it was clear that many were struggling to take courses strictly online, so the college asked every full-time faculty member to teach at least one hybrid course.

Assuming all goes as planned, Moraine will offer three types of courses in the spring: online, virtual, and hybrid. An online class has no scheduled meetings. A virtual class is conducted online, but includes meetings with an instructor through programs such as Zoom or WebEx. A hybrid course has an online component, but also incorporates in-person meetings.

Spring uncertain, but administrators optimistic

However, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, students are wondering, is it likely this plan will go forward?

“There’s no way I can even begin to answer that question,” said Wally Fronczek, dean of Liberal Arts, who is working with a team of approximately 50 other administrators, faculty members, and staff to ensure a safe and productive return to campus.

In the spring, students will be expected to use the Campus Clear app to show professors they are safe to attend class.

“If I knew, it would be like winning the lottery. We plan as best as we can and make changes as we go along, but I’m an optimist, and I believe we can get through it all.”

Margaret Lehner, vice president of Institutional Advancement, is also a member of the return-to-campus team.

 “I wish I had a crystal ball,” she said. “We are monitoring on a day-to-day basis, and if safety precautions say we need to do what we need to do in order to follow the CDC, then we will make whatever decision we feel is the safest for our students and our staff.”

As the virus and the pandemic itself changes from one day or week to the next, so do the regulations and every preparation Moraine is making.

The New York Times reports, “At least 153 new coronavirus deaths and 11,651 new cases were reported in Illinois on Nov. 21. Over the past week, there has been an average of 11,913 cases per day, an increase of 33 percent from the average two weeks earlier.”

If the decision must be made to close campus for spring, President Sylvia Jenkins will inform students as soon as possible. In that case, hybrid courses will be switched back to a virtual or online format.

Hybrids to balance safety, student success

In planning for the hybrid courses, Moraine is working to balance what’s needed for a student’s success in class with meeting health regulations. Procedures will include splitting students into smaller groups, a new app to ensure people coming onto campus are not sick, and protocols for tracing and isolating people who come down with the virus.

In a hybrid course, students usually will meet with their instructor only once a week. According to Lehner, there will be about 24 students in each class. Early in the semester, the professor will place students into two groups, with “Group A” meeting on one day and “Group B” on another.

Fronczek offers advice for students taking hybrid courses: “You really kinda have to stay on top of your deadlines and ensure you attend the face to face meetings. Be diligent, ask questions, don’t be shy. Since there is 30 percent face to face, make sure you get to know your faculty member.”

In hybrids, fewer students at a time means classrooms can be set up to conform to the CDC’s health guidelines. Desks and hallways will be marked to ensure social distancing, classrooms will be thoroughly disinfected after each session, and everyone will be required to wear a mask at all times.

We plan as best as we can and make changes as we go along, but I’m an optimist, and I believe we can get through it all.

Wally Fronczek, dean of Liberal Arts

Before entering class, students also will be required to use the new Campus Clear app to show their professors proof they are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. The app is available through the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. If the student doesn’t have access to a smartphone, a form may be filled out or technology will be available to check for symptoms.

Students who test positive must tell a faculty member immediately and cannot attend class for two weeks. If the instructor tests positive, the course will either go online for two weeks, or it will be taken over by another faculty member. Moraine’s contact tracer will track down everyone who may have been in contact with the infected person.

Fronczek said he doesn’t fear the return to campus: “I’m pretty confident, and I’m very comfortable. I honestly think they’ve taken every measure in order to feel safe.”

Whatever happens, this time in Moraine history certainly won’t be forgotten. Lehner, who has been with the college for more than 50 years, said she has never seen as great of a change in the education system as she’s seen from COVID.

 “The biggest upset was if we had a snowstorm and had to cancel our classes,” she said. “The big freeze for three days was the longest I ever remember not being in classes.”

For updates on what Moraine Valley is doing to accommodate COVID-19, subscribe to The Glacier or visit

Featured photo from Moraine Valley Community College website.