While undergraduates in Yale College are overwhelmingly only able to take virtual classes, students at the Yale School of Management and Yale Law School have had limited access to in-person classes in Evans Hall and the Sterling Law Building, respectively.
The two schools are continuing some form of their hybrid learning models this spring, featuring a combination of virtual and in-person classes to maximize students’ experiences while maintaining strict COVID-19 safety regulations. With nearly a year of virtual learning under their belts, the SOM and the Law School have slightly adjusted their models this semester, creating new opportunities for student engagement and expanding their testing programs. Even so, some of the benefits of in-person learning are not evenly spread across all students.
“This is not obviously what anyone expected their school experience to be, and there are all sorts of complaints for the situation we’ve ended up in, but we’re still incredibly lucky to be here,” SOM Student Government President Julia Frederick SOM ’21 SPH ’21 said. “I know the school wants to help us in doing that and we’ve worked really well together … I think we all ideally want what’s best for our students. We want people to be healthy and safe and get the most out of this experience as they can.”
Under the SOM’s hybrid delivery model, students are assigned to an A or B schedule where they come to campus on their assigned days, according to SOM Assistant Dean of Faculty and Curriculum Gabriel Rossi.
Rossi said the A and B model helps lower the density of the classrooms so that in-person instruction can occur within strict social distancing guidelines, and that “dozens of classes” have implemented the hybrid structure.
“This [A and B hybrid model] has been very successful for first years in particular,” Frederick added. “The majority of their core classes and the professors teaching those classes did teach in person, so if [the first-year students] were in New Haven, they did have the opportunity to come in on alternating days for those classes.”
Although the Law School does not have a corresponding A and B system, the school is also operating under a hybrid model, where some courses have in-person components that students may attend. All law students living in Baker Hall — the Law School dormitory building — and all students enrolled in an in-person or hybrid class are required to be tested weekly for COVID-19.
Additionally, the Law School faculty approved a grading policy for the spring semester on Jan. 29 that extends the deadline to choose credit/fail grading for a class from Feb. 22 to March 8. Law students are also now able to drop a course without a fee and without seeking individual faculty approval anytime before the examination period begins on May 10.
“Over the break, we’ve continued to improve the Law School’s hybrid classroom spaces,” Law School Dean Heather Gerken wrote in a Feb. 1 message to the Yale Law School community. “Our faculty and staff, with the help of the student representatives, have also made enormous efforts to distill the lessons learned from our first semester of hybrid teaching and find new ways to improve the educational experience, whether in-person or remote.”
There have been some changes to the SOM’s hybrid learning model this semester, as well.
In a typical year, students can reserve rooms in Evans Hall for group projects, studying, conducting interviews or other purposes. According to Frederick, students were not allowed to use these rooms in the fall. Now, however, the school has opened them up on a limited basis.
“SOM has 37 single-occupancy rooms in Evans Hall that students are able to book for interviews, individual study, or project work,” SOM Associate Director for Events Bradley Bower wrote in an email to the News. “We permit one reservation per day in each room, which allows our custodial staff time to properly sanitize the room between reservations and maintain a safe environment in these spaces.”
Additionally, Frederick said that SOM has updated its seat optimization model to allow more students to come into the building. In the fall, students were only permitted inside Evans Hall on the days they were assigned. But because some students chose to never attend in-person classes, there were often many empty seats in classrooms.
Now, if a student is not planning to come into class, another student can take their seat and attend class in person, rather than virtually. With this policy, the number of students physically within the classrooms remains safe and subject to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.
“It’s allowed more flexibility,” Frederick said. “For instance, I’m in a class, Behavioral Economics, that meets Mondays and Wednesdays, and I’ve been going in for that class every Monday and every Wednesday because there are enough seats that it’s possible for me to do that. So it’s just a nice way to make it so that, within COVID regulations, students have the ability to go into the building more often, if they want.”
According to the News’ COVID-19 dashboard, 44 graduate and professional school students have tested positive since Jan. 8.
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