As OCC students, faculty plan campus return, some were already back

OCC students will need to add masks and vaccine cards to their back-to-school lists this spring. 

As students and faculty across the nation transition back to most classes being held on campus, there are many new safety protocols set in place to keep everyone safe. Keeping everyone healthy is the main priority during this global pandemic and Orange Coast College is doing their best to make that happen. 

Fall semester has ended with only a few classes held on campus at OCC. Communications professor Hannah Haghighat and student Natalie Doumanian are two of the few individuals that have been on campus for fall semester and are anticipating the spring 2022 semester.

Haghighat has been a Communications professor for five years now and is currently teaching the Forensics Workshop club on campus. She stated that being on campus has been a great experience and has thoroughly enjoyed the long-awaited face-to-face interaction with her students. There are pros and cons to both online and in-person classes, but overall Haghighat shared that in-person classes benefit the students and professors' educational experience. “A lot of the students seemed really excited to be back on campus,” she said. “It felt like a lot of people were starved for connection and being together interpersonally, you get to work with people that really want to be there.”

Doumanian shares her experience as a student involved in three in-person courses during the fall semester. She only had two semesters of the OCC in-person experience before having to transition to online courses due to the pandemic. “Being back in person has been nothing but a positive experience,” Doumanian said. “Finally having a community after feeling isolated with online courses has had a positive influence on my mental health.”

With students starting to transition back to face-to-face interaction in their education, Doumanian believes that students will be eager to create relationships more than ever. “It seems like people have missed the normalcy and connection that being on campus provides,” Doumanian said.

Amid the excitement of being back on campus, there are still some concerns about what the spring semester is going to look like with most students and faculty returning. Although Haghighat is in full support of masks during class times, she shares her concerns about the effect it might have on classes that involve speeches and presentations. “I worry about asking students to keep their masks on during speeches, making sure you're loud enough for everyone to hear you and clearly communicating is hard with a mask on,” she said. 

Doumanian shares the positives of having online courses as an option, which will no longer be the case for many OCC classes in spring. “Having online courses as an option is convenient for people who work and have a busy schedule,” she said. “Some have a lot to balance outside of school and we have a lot of diverse students at OCC. I think online works a lot better for certain different people and their lifestyles.” 

Overall, students and faculty of OCC have expressed excitement to return to the next semester being held on campus. As the transition begins, Doumanian shared an important reminder for everyone on campus regarding the spring 2022 semester. “Working together and being compassionate and caring towards each other during this difficult time is extremely important to not only create a community, but a happy campus,” Doumanian said. “We're all in the same spot; we’re all students trying to succeed, go off to a four year, earn a degree and make something of ourselves.”

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