Students react to Wichita State class cancellation, online switch


Noah Merrell

Junior aerospace engineering student Shubhrojit Bhattacharya and freshman mechanical engineering student Irene De Giacomi laugh after reading the COVID-19 class suspension update.

Wichita State announced Thursday evening that in-person classes will be suspended next week and moved to online-only for at least two weeks after spring break. Campus will remain open but students living on campus are encouraged to go home over the break.

The message was sent out as a text and email alert to students, as WSU followed suit with other state universities in calling off in-person classes as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe.

University President Jay Golden told The Sunflower that WSU will reevaluate its options periodically, but it’s not out of the question that classes will remain online-only for the rest of the semester.

Students expressed conflicting opinions on how this closure will affect their day-to-day life. 

Arleth Uranga, a senior biology major, said the announcement left her with many questions.

“I wonder if people are going to go back home,” Uranga said. “I’d like to know how labs would continue.”

She said she’s also curious how tests will be administered.

Even though Uranga is full of questions, she said that overall, canceling in-person classes was probably the best decision the university could have made. 

“I think it’s the best preventative measure,” Uranga said. 

Freshman science student Sydney Stroh said that even though she expected the cancellation, it annoyed her nonetheless.

“I did expect it because everyone else around the states are canceling schools,” Stroh said. “But you know, it’s annoying because then I can’t be in class in-person.” 

Stroh said she doesn’t think the cancellation and switch to online is necessary.

“I don’t [believe WSU should have canceled] because I think people are stressing over it more than they need to be,” Stroh said.

President Golden told The Sunflower he hopes that people who think the online-only approach is an overreaction are right.

“I do. I hope that there are no more cases and I went one step maybe additionally for protection,” Golden said. “That would just mean that there are no more cases and none of the students, faculty, staff, or community are put at risk.”

Freshman pre-nursing major Claire Reitz said she feels stranded in Wichita because of her job.

“For me it’s kind of inconvenient,” Reitz said. “I’m not from here, but I mean, I have a job so I can’t leave.

“That kind of sucks.”

Reitz said she also believes that the cancellation and switch to online-only classes is unnecessary. 

“I get their concern and I do think it’s a big deal, but we have taken a lot of steps to protect ourselves from it,” Reitz said. “The people that are being affected mainly are not college students — especially not healthy college students, so it’s kind of overreacting a little bit.”

Junior aerospace engineering major Shubhrojit Bhattacharya said he was “relieved” to hear the WSU announcement and believes it is necessary with spring break on the horizon.

“I know that after spring break, a lot of people would go and travel, and when they come back, I was afraid that once they come back, potentially one would be infected and . . . it would happen here.”

Bhattacharya said that even though online classes will pose difficulties for engineering students, the alternative could be far worse. 

“It’s not the best thing . . . having online classes,” he said. “But I would rather be having online classes than in class after spring break.”