Physical Therapy Returns to Campus Using All-Modes Ready Approach

By Caitlin Burns | July 23, 2020
Dr. Michael Tevald works with two female students, all wearing masks.

On Monday, July 13, students in the Physical Therapy program returned to the classroom for the first time since March. However, the classroom experience was much different from prior to COVID-19.

While 60 students were participating in the lessons that ran Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, they were all spread throughout six classrooms with 10 students each and a faculty member. Each of the classrooms was connected through technology so a single lead instructor could demonstrate for all students, while follow-up questions and exercises were addressed by the in-classroom faculty. Students have the option to work remotely from home and participate through Zoom.

“It’s our first ‘post-COVID-19’ day,” said Dr. Phil McClure, professor and chair of Physical Therapy. “This new model is in contrast to our typical model of 60 students in one large space where students and four instructors rotate freely to appreciate the variability among body types.” 

Instead of the traditional large-scale model, students who were in the classrooms were broken into groups of three and four in order to work out theoretical scenarios. The first week focused on hip joints and low and high impact exercises. Each group was stationed six-feet or more apart, with the instructor floating between groups. 

One of the biggest changes is that students will no longer rotate freely between various groups to learn about working with different body types, but will only work within their own groups.

“I’m relieved to be back on campus and in the classroom,” said Layla Darian ’21DPT. “It’s hard to learn physical therapy on a computer.”

Each student underwent medical screenings before entering the space from various entrances and were required to wear masks throughout the day. The University’s wipe-in/wipe-out procedure was also in place, as students used sanitizing wipes to clean surfaces before and after use.

“We definitely need to be on campus to learn most effectively,” said Cait Farrell ’21DPT. “I’m glad the department didn’t rush it, though. They’ve definitely put a lot of time and effort into making sure we’re safe.”