|▲The panoramic view of Changwon University (Source:Waagle)|
At the end of 2019, the coronavirus pandemic, which started in Wuhan, China, struck the world and forced almost all universities across the country to conduct online classes, to prevent the spread of the virus. However, from the second half of 2021, most of the people in Korea completed vaccination and have access to COVID-19 pills that can cure the virus infection by simply taking them. Although the spread of COVID-19 is still growing rapidly nationwide, the dominant strain, the Omicron mutation, is showing a lower severe rate, than the existing coronavirus, showing hope for an endemic. CWNU also announced a new syllabus plan based on face-to-face classes from the spring semester along with this domestic and international situation. In the event of a change in infection conditions during the semester, it also announced a plan to convert the class operation method, which requires the facilities to receive a virus pre-inspection. If there are any infections that took place during face-to-face classes, instructors must provide alternative homework or lecture files, for attendances. Park Jin-sung, a CWNU student, gave an opinion on face-to-face and online classes.
Q: Please introduce yourself.
Park: I'm Park Jin-sung. I have become a senior year student in Electronic Engineering this year.
Q: Despite over 100,000 people being infected with COVID-19 in Korea, most of the lecturers are going to do face-to-face classes due to the relatively low fatality rate of the Omicron mutation as compared to the existing virus in conjunction with a high inoculation rate of citizens. What is your response to this?
Park: Actually, I've also become insensitive to the number of daily infections. I took online classes at the university in 2020 and 2021. In 2020, when there were thousands of confirmed cases a day, I was scared, but now I'm fully vaccinated and there is a simple method to cure the virus, so there’s no need to be frustrated. The severity rate of the 20s was already low even before the Omicron variant, and the severity rate has been lowered thanks to the dominant Omicron, however, I think the continuation of strict measures will cause great losses, both socially and economically. Although there are concerns of the virus spreading, as universities are a place where students come from various regions, I think face-to-face classes should be conducted. University students are learning difficult information, regarding their majors, and I am pretty sure that academic achievements have been lowered by online classes, which have been conducted for the past two years.
Q: Please tell us about the advantages and disadvantages of online classes as compared to face-to-face classes.
Park: After beginning my studies at the university in 2017, I took face-to-face classes for a year, and after finishing the National Service in 2020, I have taken non-face-to-face classes. Students should gather to build relationships that can stimulate and help each other with an environment where students take the same lectures in the communal places. In addition, Professors could receive feedback immediately when students were having a hard time understanding the material, but when I took online lectures, I remember there were no ways to ask or give feedback during the class. However, through online classes, I was able to manage my time efficiently because there was no need to waste my time by moving from class to class. I was even able to work part-time and went to the gym regularly.
Q: There are more than 1,000 confirmed cases in Changwon alone. Do you have any concerns about face-to-face classes?
Park: Since the university is a place where students gather, not only from Changwon, but also from various regions, the biggest concern is the spread of the virus. It doesn’t matter to us, I am only worried that my elderly grandparents will be exposed to dangerous situations by the possible infection from their family members without realizing it.
Q: What kind of response do you think the school should take to prevent the worst-case scenario?
Park: Every class must abide by pre-class inspections. Personally, rather than just checking the body temperature, I would like to conduct a simple PCR test every day to ensure the safety of students.
According to research conducted by the Ministry of Education, the loss caused by the lowered quality of classes by the spread of COVID-19 nationwide will reach about 2 trillion won. Unlike the past two years, when people were forced to suffer helplessly from the spread of the coronavirus, we now have been vaccinated and even have drugs to properly treat patients. With face-to-face classes that will resume this year, it is hoped to restore the quality of learning and become the starting point for daily recovery nationwide.
By Park Hyun-jong, reporter email@example.com
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