Back to Class, With a Difference

The first day of undergraduate classes looked unlike any other year, but students were still excited to be back on campus
Two students sit in chairs on the academic quad. The first day of undergraduate classes looked very different this year, but students were still excited to be back on campus
Sophomores Alexa Brown and Malcom Cox sit on Adirondack chairs on the Academic Quad, attending classes remotely. Photo: Alonso Nichols
September 9, 2020

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Tuesday was the first day of classes for undergraduates at Tufts, and like everything in this pandemic year, things were very different. Any other year, you would see large groups of students pouring out of the dorms or dining halls, hurrying to morning classes. But this first day of classes was much quieter than normal.

Masked students walked across campus in small groups of twos and threes and sat at least six feet apart in classrooms. Those in classrooms took time to wave to those who were attending on Zoom.

SMFA first-year student Demitrious Matus had just taken his first class. “It was really cool—an interesting class,” he said. “I’m excited to actually be taking classes, since I haven’t been able to for a while now.”

First year graduate student Paige Dunlevy said “it’s definitely a different experience, being in class with a mask on. But I am really glad to be back in the classroom.”

Classes come in many different formats now. Some are in person, while many are hybrid—in person and online—and others are online only, the result of intensive planning and work over the summer by faculty and staff in order to be open to all learners.

Eitan Hersh, an associate professor of political science, teaches students in Cohen Auditorium—and on Zoom. Photo: Alonso Nichols

There are masks for everyone at Tisch Library. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Perri L. Sheinbaum, a first-year Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning student, along with others in assistant professor Shomon Shamsuddin’s class on the first day of the fall semester. Photo: Alonso Nichols​

Seniors Aviva Rosenberg and Margot Shea prepare for class outside the Mayer Campus Center. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Big classrooms with students spaced out is the order of the day as Ioannis Evrigenis, professor of political science, teaches class in ASEAN Auditorium. Photo: Alonso Nichols

The first day of classes was warm and sunny—perfect for sitting out on the lawn behind Ballou Hall. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Students and staff return to Tisch Library on the first day of the fall semester; plexiglass shields are in place as staff work with students. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Sara Norberg contributed to this article.