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College educators advocate for online-only as coronavirus cases rise among young people

Posted at 6:35 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 18:19:55-04

MILWAUKEE — The growing number of young people testing positive for COVID-19 is among the reasons why some college professors are pushing for online-only clases this fall.

A new survey out of UW-Madison indicates that most professors and lecturers would prefer to avoid teaching in person.

The UW-Madison chapter of the American Association of University Professors found out of the survey's 200 responses, nearly 78 percent of instructors would rather teach exclusively online.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, people ages 20-29 account for 24 percent of the state's coronavirus cases, which is more than any other age group.

Statistics like that are why Joette Rockow, a Senior Lecturer at UW-Milwaukee wants to teach all of her classes online.

"I'm pushing on 60, so I am not a big fan of going in a classroom with some 20-29 year olds," Rockow said.

Rockow teaches Journalism and Advertising courses at UWM. She said that the university has been really helpful during the pandemic.

According to UW Milwaukee's website, each division of instruction is allowed to determine which staff members can continue working remotely.

"They haven’t put any pressure on us at all to teach live if we do not want to teach live," Rockow said.

UWM and other colleges throughout southeast Wisconsin have posted their fall plans online. Many are requiring face masks, extra cleaning, smaller class sizes and online options whenever possible.

UWM says it had already trained more than half of its instructors on how to teach online before the pandemic hit. More than 150 have completed more training this summer already, and another 500+ will be trained in the next two months.

Despite this, some students say they would much rather have in-person classes.

"I wouldn't want to go to UWM if I couldn't actually come and go to the Union," said student Shannon Huren.

"I miss having the teacher in front of me telling me how to do it instead of watching my online lectures which is definitely harder," said student Kaitlyn Linskens.

Nevertheless, COVID-19 continues to promise for changes as local educational institutions consider their plans.

For more information on UWM COVID-19 precautions, click here.

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