There is no standard accommodation policy for professors to refer to regarding students who contract COVID-19 at Salisbury University. This leaves infected students at risk for failing courses, losing financial aid and full-time status, as previously reported by The Flyer.
What should a standard policy for SU faculty include?
A formal policy should be put in place similar to the one provided to Whitworth University faculty. It should be flexible and allow various accommodation options.
It should also provide rights for students including a reasonable number of allowed absences and flexible assignment deadlines.
SU used zoom when the pandemic struck for hybrid and online classes. It is an effective online learning tool that could be used by students who contract COVID-19.
Professors who prefer to avoid Zoom’s presence and occasional malfunctions in the classroom have other options.
Lectures can be easily recorded via video or audio tools for students to watch or listen to on their own. Slide presentations and lecture materials can be sent to students as well.
Students should receive additional instruction and assistance via virtual office hours.
If other learning resources, such as the University Writing Center, are virtually available to students, professors should offer accommodations outside the classroom.
Lab science courses may run into roadblocks when accommodating infected students. However, I had a positive experience taking BIOL 110 as an online course during the height of COVID-19.
Even if certain course requirements are not viable outside the classroom, every option should be exhausted when a student’s future, academic life, financial wellbeing, personal health and life are on the line in a global pandemic.
Administration needs to address this protocol hole quickly if they intend on keeping campus open. COVID-19 is not over.
Harvard Business School “is reverting to remote learning after beginning the semester with in-person classes” after a rise in breakthrough COVID cases, according to Columbia Broadcasting System News.
Breakthrough cases of the disease are becoming more common “among the fully vaccinated as virus transmission increases and vaccine efficacy decreases,” according to Roll Call.
Furthermore, the fear of consequences from an unaccommodating professor discourages students from prioritizing their health. The student body is at risk if a student does not get tested, despite experiencing symptoms. Academic careers could be jeopardized.
I am grateful to have professors who would accommodate me if I caught COVID. However, I should not have to feel grateful.
A university supporting its students in a global crisis should be the norm. However, the current oversight in accommodation policy fails to meet this standard and what SU stands for.
By JACOB BEAVER
Featured photo courtesy of Salisbury University Public Relations