Teaching in the time of Omicron

My university announced back to face-to-face teaching starting Monday.

This is supposedly a committee-based decision at the University level, but I’m not sure whether or not the MOE is behind this and if other schools will be impacted.

I called the school to request keeping my classes online, which might make me a weirdo, but apparently several parents have also had this concern. If I’m FORCED TO conduct classes on a face-to-face basis, this is, in my opinion, contrary to my rights as a teacher and my desire to prevent transmission for as long as possible.

I still have no response from the school, but based on the way that online teaching has worked in the past I have already told students that the classes would most likely be all online for the rest of the semester. I’m not sure who’s behind this decision making, and my perspective might not be popular, but I think that it should be a teacher based decision whether or not he or she wants to hold classes online or face to face.


yeah but it’s university, mostly all vaccinated. That is the logic, but it’ll all just go right back to online teaching after 2 weeks anyway, because everybody will be out with covid symptoms, and you will have to conduct class online anyway because half of the students won’t be able to attend class. Just my 2 cents.

1 Like

At this point its better if everyone gets it to build up herd immunity. Way more effective than a sixteenth booster.


I am not arguing against that, but the spread is approximating an exponential-logarithmic distribution isn’t it? So, although I dislike the term “flattening the curve,” the inevitability of infection (already at lower levels of education) makes it reasonable to delay mass social gatherings of people from around the country (universities). I’d rather let nature take its course without unnecessarily expediting it. Moreover, many of our faculty, including myself are either retirement age or have pre-existing conditions. Finally, nobody needs to wear a mask during online teaching. First time in months the students saw my charming smile. :blush:

  1. I also anticipate this, but maybe 2 days instead
  2. I might have a “fever,” “cough,” or other symptom on Monday, which will make it impossible for me to enter the campus, thereby defaulting to onIine teaching (does the lightbulb trick work on modern thermometers)

Only one of the twelve teachers in my department wants to continue online and his reason is fear of COVID.
I suppose if you’re a boring teacher who wants to drone into a microphone while the students play with their phones, it’s hunky-dory.
You can’t make exceptions, though. Students will complain.


Hi @jimipresley , thanks for providing more data points. Also, I appreciate your commentary and haven’t interacted with you in quite some time.

Regarding the teachers in my department, I would also agree that the main reasons for the few of us who have openly stated our interest in having the option of online teaching are due to some degree of fear of COVID.

However, in my specific situation, I’m actually more concerned about cross-school infection. I do clinical teaching every week at a primary school with an affiliated Kindergarten. I completely realize that I am more likely to catch covid from one of the little ones (whose masks are often falling off and who get right in my face). However, if I was identified as the person who gave it to the kids or teachers of that school, it wouldn’t be pretty.

The above description precisely fits those teachers, and only those teachers, in our department who have explicitly stated that they want face-to-face classes despite our rule for the last week that teaching should be done online. In fact, from student gossip and my own observation, those teachers who tend to drone on and focus on lectures over interaction are the very same teachers who are strongly pro “back to class.”

I personally appreciate the challenges of online teaching, the advantages of technology, and the way in which students are able to showcase their talents through engaging in recorded videos, the use of text and other modalities in online teaching, and the ability of providing more preparation time as well as a certain degree of anonymity (no webcam requirements). Students have even expressed their appreciation at how much they enjoyed my online classes, particularly since we didn’t have to wear masks and we can see each other’s faces and smiles. Even though I call upon students randomly in order to make sure they’re paying attention, students still provide positive feedback about this.

Yet we do make many exceptions in so many other ways and on so many levels as teachers. Students, naturally, will favor some teaching styles over others, some forms of assessment, some types of assignments, and the general vibe of the classroom or the teacher. As individuals, our course design and implementation are unique to each teacher. My policy is pro-choice for students and teachers regarding whether or not the delivery is face-to-face, online, or hybrid.

This is an axiom impervious to debate :sweat_smile:.


Oh wow. OK, now I feel like an incredibly lazy teacher.

1 Like

Sorry! I didn’t mean to imply that I’m a superman – I’m certainly not. These benefits of online teaching are just findings that I’ve informally analysed based on students’ use of recorded reports as substitutes for live reports (eg., lesson plan sharing/teaching demos that allowed students to collaborate onIine and produce quite remarkable results).

Of course, technology is no replacement for face-to-face interaction, impromptu responses, and taking the stage in front of your peers. In fact, I have been one of the first ones to argue against the overuse of technology in education. However, when used appropriately, there are some advantages:

  • beginners can focus more on content rather than stage presence, thereby improving their confidence as well as their overall quality of presentation. This is a scaffold towards more impromptu and physically present interaction in later semesters.
  • more advanced learners can have a break from the typical activities assigned by teachers (such as role plays, micro teaching, article presentations, group presentations) that they have performed repeatedly in past semesters.

For online teaching, I’ve found the following to work for me:

  • have students sign in or provide responses to specific questions when called upon at various times during the lecture, with the warning that they will be counted as absent (in terms of their participation score) if they fail to respond. Of course, have students follow up with you if they have any technical issues that they need to explain.
  • let students know that there will be questions asked based on the content (if the mode of teaching is a lecture), while guaranteeing that students will be selected randomly
  • give students topics and questions in advance, providing them time to prepare and present more confidently during the online session. Moreover, peers can ask questions or provide feedback. Actually, these are also strategies that work for face-to-face teaching.
  • turning on your own webcam let the kids see your face, gestures, and any prepared props or materials that you want to show to emphasize what you are discussing.
  • using the functions of PPT can allow you to highlight and make drawings on the screen, which some ways can be a kind of visual prompt to ensure comprehensible input for students. Also, compared to a regular classroom, the full screen sharing of a PowerPoint presentation could be much for easy to read for students during online teaching
  • use of some web-based applications can make learning more interactive and engaging. I tend to use whiteboard.fi, Kahoot!, and Baamboozle.

Results will vary according to the class and the course content, but I do enjoy the challenge of engaging learners and prompting them to be active in my teaching rather than just sleeping or turning off the screen.


I don’t teach at the University level here in Taiwan but I’m with you on this. COVID numbers aren’t looking too great lately. In my case in-person is a big risk since many of the kids aren’t vaccinated. I work at the elementary level we just had a few cases last week (the students were infected) at one school (I work at three schools because people are cheapskates). We had online school for 10 days we’re back to in-person classes next week. We have roughly 2,500-3,000 people at all three schools combined but no one takes COVID too seriously.

Taiwan is not a fan of online school because they can’t micromanage students or staffs. A lot of bosses have very little trust in their staffs so, if they can’t keep an eye on you they think you’re wasting time away and getting paid for doing very little. I say, let them be stubborn and conduct in-person classes. Once students start infecting each other they’ll run back to online school.


Unmotivated students, and fraud, are also problems with online learning, generally but not necessarily


Thanks for that. Lots to mull over there … I really need to use one of my (rather generous) breaks to read up more on teaching approaches and examine ways to work on how I do things. I fine-tune all the time, but my general approach hasn’t changed in, um, a long time, and I should re-consider that once in a while.

But I confess my reaction to a lot of your post is “Oh wow, you have students good enough to be able to do that kind of stuff?!” Which could also mean I underestimate what my students can do.


Or sometimes we don’t set stuff up in the right way to support them, ie. scaffolding .

I’m looking at an assignment I’ve given for the first time, totally new course for me, results arw quite mixed and generally disappointing. My take away is that they could have done better if I did a better job making my expectations clear and giving them the tools to succeed.

Good news is, there’s a couple of good examples in there for next year. I find the first time or two i teach a course there are these kinks


I dont understand why teachers are being forced to boost.

The vaccines don’t stop you from catching nor spreading the virus.

Why not let us opt for an antibody test? Theres a huge possibility weve been infected and recovered already. If antibodies are found , then let us opt out of boosters.


I think this kind of thinking is a bit premature. But maybe in about a month?

1 Like

Even if antibodies are not found, you should be able to opt out. Mandating teachers because parents have irrational fears is stupid. However…

I believe the reason is that they know that teachers are going to get it and they don’t want too many taking time off. They think the boosters will help with this.

1 Like

Statistically they are not wrong, especially if your booster is Moderna.


I wonder just how sick I’d have to be to NOT teach a scheduled class online from home - certainly sicker than any cold I’ve ever had. Not because of any Stakhanovite tendencies, but because arranging make-ups is such a gigantic pain.

“OK students … wheeze … yeah, I’m not feeling well, but … gasp … none of us want a make-up class … um, if I don’t sit up after one of my periodic slumps over the desk, can one of you call an ambulance for me?” (Thump of head on desk.)


I’m not talking about online. They want students in schools. Those students need teachers.

Online teaching doesn’t match in person. Not even close.

No, it doesn’t. But if teachers have to stay isolated for a while because they were a contact, and there aren’t any other teachers, then there aren’t really other choices than online. At least that’s a viable option now.

Apparently a significant number of my university students are hoping to go online because it means they can stay in bed. I find this dismaying.

1 Like