MCMINNVILLE, OR (KPTV) - Monday marked the first day of classes for two local universities.

Linfield University is holding in-person socially-distanced classes and the University of Portland is holding mostly virtual instruction.

During the pandemic, Linfield ultimately made the decision to bring students back to campus in McMinnville this fall.

"I mean, we have been planning students returning for months," Linfield University Provost Susan Agre-Kippenhan said.

At Linfield, class sizes are already small, which Agre-Kippenhan says made it easier to reconfigure what a classroom looks like this year.

"We have very few classes that are 30 or 50 people," Agre-Kippenhan said. "If you're talking about a 300-person class than that really limits what you might be able to do so we have more options available to us."

Linfield has made changes by limiting class sizes and finding ways to use outdoor space for social distancing. It's set up tents on its fields that are fully equipped classrooms with more space and ventilation.

Everyone on campus must wear a face mask in campus buildings, as well as outside if they cannot socially distance. Students say it's definitely different, but they're happy to be back on campus.

Oregon universities welcome back students on campus and online

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"Social distancing is definitely something that we're trying to enforce on campus, which makes it hard, because when you meet new people, of course, you want to hug them, shake someone's hand, but we can't do that, so we're resorting to the little elbow bump," senior Megan Angier said.

"We're wearing our masks properly, socially distancing," senior Sean Webster said. I think a lot of students are just happy to be learning face-to-face, and so that's one thing that they value most."

After Thanksgiving, students at Linfield will have two weeks of virtual classes which includes finals.

At University of Portland, classes are mostly virtual.

Provost Herbert Medina says the university made the decision to hold mostly virtual classes due to the number of COVID-19 cases in Multnomah County and that 75 percent of its students come from out of state, with a significant portion from California and Washington, where the number of cases have been higher.

"They're teaching live and recording those classes and then also doing some asynchronous instruction, which may mean that they record a lecture, they record a presentation beforehand, and then they make it available for students. And maybe they do a chat of some type online," Medina said.

Medina says there are a number of students in various time zones, so recording instruction is helpful in this new way of learning. But he says that doesn't mean these classes can't be interactive.

"In Chemistry, for example there are some virtual labs where you can drag and drop chemicals into certain boxes and have reactions happening that way," Medina said. "And as well as having students watch videos of certain experiments taking place."

Medina says the university will continue to monitor the situation in terms of when it is safe to bring students back to campus.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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