USF to offer more hybrid, fewer fully online classes in spring

While the schedule will be subject to change depending on student demand, USF plans to offer about 1,000 fewer class sections in total during the spring semester. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

In preparation for spring registration, USF is set to slightly increase hybrid delivery while offering fewer in-person and fully online courses. 

As a result, 1,517 sections of hybrid classes will be offered during the spring semester compared to 1,244 hybrid classes in the fall, according to media relations manager Althea Paul. 

When it comes to in-person and fully online instruction, about 55.4% of spring classes are projected to have some sort of in-person activity while 44.6% will be primarily or 100% online.

In the fall, the university offered 4,989 fully online courses. As of Oct. 23, about 4,041 fully online courses will be offered in the spring semester.

For classroom instruction less than 50% online, there will be 3,842 sections available in spring, compared to 4,058 in fall.

“I think the numbers reflect that we’re still under the same kinds of constraints we are operating in right now,” said Vice President for Student Success Paul Dosal. “The uncertainties that students and faculty face in trying to decide whether to offer or attend in class or online — they’re still with us, they’ve not changed significantly since we’ve planned the fall semester offerings.”

Class offerings are still subject to change though, specifically regarding how many class sections will be offered as a whole. As of Oct. 23, about 1,000 fewer sections in total will be offered compared to fall.

“It’s not apples to apples, because it’s before registration starts,” said Associate Vice President for Innovative Education Cynthia DeLuca. 

“Our schedule will continue to change as it does every semester and that will be based on student demand. As students begin to register, the schedule will change.”

DeLuca expects the spring section numbers to align more closely with the number of fall sections once registration begins and the spring semester approaches.

However, the class options for the spring have still left students mixed on their outlook for the rest of the academic year. Despite the slight increase in hybrid learning options, there are some who want more in-person class interaction.

“The healthy people shouldn’t be treated like sick people by being forced to accept online [or] hybrid classes,” said junior business major Alec Falkenberry. “The best learning environment for me is the in-person class experience and honestly my education has suffered since these online [and] hybrid class changes were made.”

Other students are dissatisfied with fewer in-person course offerings for cost reasons, specifically in terms of deciding whether or not to stay near or on campus versus at home. 

“Well I signed up for a dorm for the fall when my class schedule had half in-person classes, [and] after signing up, my important classes went online without a heads-up,” said junior statistics major Sebastian Gardner. 

“Then next semester other than Spanish I don’t even have the option of in person. Despite this, I’m forced to pay for another semester in the dorms or risk paying a hefty fine.”

Although USF students can have some sort of expectations for coursework in the spring, some question the timing of decisions regarding when classes will be moved completely online during the semester along with the closure of university facilities. 

“I think it’s interesting that they are moving to fully online after Thanksgiving break and have moved spring break to the end of the semester and are making fully online after spring break when one of the biggest breaks we have is between the fall and spring semesters and people travel the most during that time because of Christmas and New Year’s,” said senior communication sciences and disorders major Ashley Krupa.

“You [think] there would be the potential to have an increase in the spread of the virus after a new semester starts and we come back from that break, too.”

Senior dance major Isabella Lepp said that despite the uncertainties on spring return after winter break, she still plans on coming back to take her last semester of school.

“Personally, my [dance] department has a very secure method of delivering classes through the hybrid format with many cleaning and safety protocols in place, so I feel safe returning to campus,” said Lepp. 

Regardless of safety, students like Falkenberry are still wary about what kind of learning environment they’re paying for as tuition remains the same.

“I don’t like the idea of paying full tuition for online classes,” said Falkenberry.

USF students shouldn’t anticipate any major changes in tuition and fees for the spring semester, and the distance learning fee will continue to be charged, according to DeLuca. But the fall semester has provided takeaways for the university to be more prepared for course delivery in the spring. 

“I think we can produce higher learning outcomes and higher levels of student success by continuing some of the practices we’re developing now,” said Dosal. “It’s unfortunate that we’re developing them under duress, but some of them are good and some of them are going to last, and we’re going to keep those in place as we move forward.”