By: Shlomit Ebbin  | 

32% of Spring 2021 Undergraduate Courses to Have In-Person Component, 68% Remain Fully Online

32% of undergraduate courses will include an in-person component for Spring 2021 and 68% of the total courses will continue fully online, according to course listings on MyYU, marking an increase of in-person classes compared to Fall 2020. The spring semester begins on Jan. 19 and ends on May 14.

Courses for registration are marked online-live, online-asynchronous, blended or face-to-face on the MyYU student portal. According to an email from President Ari Berman on Dec. 9, blended courses will have on-campus students and the faculty member “periodically meet on campus for instruction,” and remote students will participate online. Face-to-face courses take place only on campus and are not available for remote students. 

At Stern College for Women (SCW), 64% of its 389 total course offerings will be completely online, with 59% of classes as online-live and 5% as asynchronous. 30.5% of classes will be conducted using the blended model, and 5.5% of courses will be face-to-face. 75% of Yeshiva College’s (YC) 191 classes will be conducted completely online, with 71% being listed as online-live and 4% as online-asynchronous. 19% will be blended courses and 6% will be face-to-face. In contrast, 71% of YC classes and 85.5% of SCW classes were listed as “online” for Fall 2020.

“The most important thing we’ve learned is to constantly monitor students’ experience, to listen to students, and to do our best to incorporate their experience into our planning,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Selma Botman. “We will continue to provide an excellent education to all our students, whether they are remote or face to face.”

Within the 160 courses at Sy Syms School of Business (SSSB), 82.5% are online-live, 3.7% are asynchronous, 1.9% are blended and 11.9% are face-to-face. 10.1% and 14.6% of SSSB courses are face-to-face on the Wilf and Beren campuses, respectively. This is a significant change from the fall semester, in which SSSB conducted 100% of its classes online. 

“Last spring, like the rest of the world, we focused on live online teaching,” said Dean of SSSB Dr. Noam Wasserman on YU’s Dec. 8 community call. “For the coming semester within Sy Syms, we’re going to maintain full student choice while also adding a lot of in person options where possible. We’re focusing on the principles courses and similar courses within Sy Syms where we’ll be able to offer fully in person sections because we also have online sections that we can offer of the same course.”  

Undergraduate Torah Studies (UTS) is offering 59% blended, 39% online and less than 1% face-to-face classes and shiurim this coming semester. Within UTS, 26% of Mazer Yeshiva Program shiurim are online-live and 74% are blended, and 9% of Stone Beit Midrash Program shiurim are online-live and 91% are blended. 58% of Isaac Breuer College courses are online, 39% are blended and 3% are face-to-face, while 42% of James Striar School courses are online and 57.6% are blended.

“Many, many of our rebbeim did come back to campus this semester, and we hope to invite even more faculty, even more rebbeim, back to campus next semester to give in-person shiurim,” said UTS Associate Dean Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky on the community call. “Even those that are going to be continuing and already are giving shiurim in person, we are having a Zoom option.”

Torah Studies classes for Beren students are included in SCW’s total course count. “For the Torah classes, students really wanted the in person experience,” said Shoshana Schechter, associate dean for Torah Studies at SCW. “I’m thrilled to say that for the spring semester over 50% of our Torah classes will be in person, meaning with an in person component. Most of them are the blended model.” 

Some students are looking forward to having classes exclusively in person for the first time since YU closed in March. “I really enjoyed my in person classes this semester and I’m really looking forward to continue learning in-person next semester!” shared Yael Laks (SCW ‘22), a student who lived on campus for Fall 2020. “It can be difficult for the teachers and for the students who are at home to have a blended class, so I'm really excited to have a more cohesive environment with my fully in person classes next semester.”

“I really appreciated that SSSB had all their classes online this semester because it was more accommodating to everyone,” commented Sela Boord (SSSB ‘22), who took her classes online this past semester. “They've kept up with the needs of the students for next semester as well. I’m going back to campus next semester and I'm super excited to have two SSSB classes in person!”

Other students felt limited by face-to-face classes being exclusively open to students who are in person. “It was very important for me to take biochemistry this semester to stay on track with my pre-med schedule,” said Aaron Singer (YC ‘22), who will continue with online learning for Spring 2021. “However, with the lab in-person only this semester, I will have to commute to the Heights once a week and possibly risk putting members of my family in unnecessary danger.”

Some students expressed that the number of in-person course offerings for the spring semester is underwhelming. “It’s disappointing that the in-person classes seem to be limited to only a few departments. All my classes this spring will still be online,” said Elazar Abrahams (YC ‘22). “YU has done a great job ensuring campus is safe, so unless there are real health concerns, I don’t understand why some professors still refuse to teach face-to-face.” 

With more classes functioning in-person for Spring 2021, more professors opted to return to campus. “Currently, I am teaching what is now called a blended course using one of the special technology rooms and that is going well but class discussions tend to be more stilted and sometimes it is hard for the in-person students to hear the remote ones,” said SCW Professor of Archaeology Jill Katz, who will be conducting her course face-to-face this spring. “I decided to offer this course [exclusively] in person because I prefer to teach in person, and I know that many of the students who have returned to campus would like to take in-person courses.”


Photo Caption: A classroom on Wilf Campus with socially-distanced desks
Photo Credit: The Commentator