Lehigh students and faculty returned to in-person instruction on Aug. 23 for the fall 2021 semester, following almost three semesters of mostly virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although a majority of courses are being taught entirely in person, a select number will be remote for instructor-specific reasons.
Kashi Johnson, department of theatre chairperson and professor, said she is appreciative of the efforts being made by the university and students.
Johnson said she had a “wonderful” experience returning to in-person teaching and is looking forward to finding her way alongside her students.
As a professor of theatre, Johnson had to adapt quickly to the changes COVID-19 forced upon her curriculum. Regardless of the difficulty, Johnson said the department of theatre has discovered a new realm of possibilities through experiencing theatre virtually.
She said she was excited to “stretch new muscles” when adapting her courses to online formats but is happy to be back.
“We are all happy to be back doing the type of theatre we know, but we are still holding on to some of what we did during our virtual season,” Johnson said. “We want to keep the best parts of what we innovated while getting back to what we know how to do well.”
Garret LeBoutillier, ‘23, has also found relief in returning to in-person classes.
LeBoutillier, a civil engineering major, said he struggled to adapt to online classes and found that he never truly adjusted to the change of pace.
“I don’t think I really ever completely adjusted,” he said. “I think I was holding out for the past two semesters.”
LeBoutillier said he finds his smaller in-person classes to be more engaging and effective.
Paige Nemet, ‘24, said the higher capacity of in-person classes has helped her improve her work ethic. She also said being back in person has allowed her to meet more people on campus.
“Even just being on campus is so much more lively now,” Nemet said. “I’ll be able to experience so much more just seeing people around.”
LeBoutillier is looking forward to being able to engage with others on campus. He is a member of the acapella group Off The Record. The co-ed group will begin practicing together in person after having met, performed and recorded entirely on Zoom during the 2020-2021 academic year.
While LeBoutillier said readjusting will be somewhat tricky, he does not think it will be as difficult compared to the challenge of going from in person to complete isolation.
LeBoutillier said Lehigh can only do so much, and a portion of the responsibility needs to be left to the student body.
“No one wants the rug pulled out from under them like we had last year,” Johnson said. “Everyone has to do their part, and hopefully we’ll pull through.”