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Students and staff adjust to classes only offered in person during the pandemic

In-person-only classes have needed to adapt to new limitations due to COVID-19

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A professor introduces their family to their class on the first day of class on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, on the ASU Tempe campus.

While some students and faculty have the choice to attend or teach classes online through ASU Sync this semester, others have no choice but to come to in-person classes.

According to a list provided by an ASU spokesperson, nearly 450 classes operate solely in person this semester. Many of these courses are in nursing, physical education, art and engineering.

Associate professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy David Nielsen said he teaches four sections of a chemical engineering lab. His students come to class in person twice a week for six hours total.

Nielsen said his class must meet in person because of the hands-on nature of the class. In the class, he teaches different components of engineering relating to data and leads the class in experiments. 

Most of the class is based around using different pieces of equipment, but he must maintain a six-foot distance as he teaches. 

“It is hands-on and we wanted to keep it true to that even in the pandemic," he said.

Nielsen adjusted his class curriculum from previous years in response to the pandemic. He said five in-person experiments that would have usually taken place have been split up into two virtual experiments and three in person.

While Nielsen and his students are adjusting to the new class structure because of the pandemic, some students, like junior nursing major Hamzah Ulangkaya, said their in-person classes stayed more or less the same.

Ulangkaya's nursing class, experiential learning, consists of learning about nursing fundamentals and how to treat patients in the hospital setting. 

"I think it is very important for us to have an in-person lab because we are getting hands-on experience in hospital care,” Ulangkaya said. "I believe this is the only way we can properly learn."

Ulangkaya said since he's in the nursing field, the college didn't have a choice but to have the lab in-person and make sure everything was clean in the labs. 

“So, everyone has to wear a mask and when you come into lab, you have to sanitize your hands,” Ulangkaya said. "And then before you leave, you have to sanitize where you sat." 

Students attending class in person must wear a mask, according to ASU's Coronavirus FAQ page.

Ulangkaya said his lab hours were shortened because of the coronavirus and the number of students in the class isn't as high as it would typically be. 

“The times differ every week and usually the lab is eight to 12 hours, but this year it's four hours because of COVID," Ulangkaya said. 

While some students have to attend classes in person without the ASU Sync option, other students have the option of attending their classes through ASU Sync but want to be there in the classroom. 

Freshman public service and public policy major Patrick Apap said he attends his public affairs class, which is available on ASU Sync, in-person because the class is seminar-based, and it's beneficial to be there.

"I do worry about possibly catching COVID because I don't know the type of person that sat in my seat in the previous class, so I don't know if they're taking serious precautions or not," Apap said. "The safety precautions within my class make me feel better though because everyone wipes down their area and stays far apart and wears their masks which is nice." 

Apap said he prefers the ASU Sync format because he can decide if he wants to go to class in person or through Zoom.

Nielsen said ASU's recent announcement that classes will take place remotely after Thanksgiving break won't be an issue for his chemical engineering class because the lab portion of the class is already over.

READ MORE: Instruction to take place remotely after Thanksgiving break

"We use the time after Thanksgiving for final project presentations," Nielsen said. "So, that's really not going to change anything for us."

Nielsen said he is impressed that students attending his classes in person are behaving well and value the time they have in the classroom, especially given the unusual circumstances due to the pandemic.

"I can only speak to their behavior in a classroom setting on campus, but they're 100% compliant, no pushback, none of this, you know, silliness about needing to wear a mask or anything like that," Nielsen said. "Everyone is doing what needs to be done to make sure that they stay safe."

Reach the reporter at or follow @KayintheKnow on Twitter. 

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