With classes returning to normal and full-time, Zoom classes are a thing of the past for now. However, policies on attending class online have been tightened up a bit. But because we aren’t out of the pandemic yet, and people still have personal emergencies to tend to at times, attending class via Zoom shouldn’t be out of the picture just yet.
The common policy for Keene State College classes is to allow students to attend class online if they test positive or are in isolation for COVID-19. That being said, absences related to COVID-19 seem to be the only acceptable reason for attending class online. Some professors have made it clear to their students that they’ll only allow 3 absences before some sort of penalty or forced withdrawal occurs. The Equinox thinks there should be a bit more leniency around the reasons students attend their classes remotely.
Zoom as a tool for class has really come in handy, despite how exhausting it seemed attending classes that way in the previous academic year and half. Being able to not miss too much class because of sickness, for some people, is a relief. But COVID-19 isn’t the only illness to catch at any point. The common cold is just as present as anything, but it’s implied in Zoom policies that you still need to go to class unless symptoms are severe.
The Equinox thinks that professors as a whole should apply the general policy that if the student has an extenuating circumstance to not attend class, they should provide a Zoom link for them to join. But that being said, it was apparent to us that several students seemed to abuse the ability to take classes from their beds. We don’t think every excuse should be accepted, but ones relating to illness should be allowed. Whether or not students are allowed to attend class online should be related to how their presence in the class is perceived. We don’t want students on crutches slipping and falling on icy walkways to make it to class in-person either.
The Zoom policies should also apply leniency to students with personal emergencies that require their absence from class and/or campus. As logic shows, we all have individual lives outside of school. Medical issues, losses and family emergencies that need tending to are sometimes more important than classes. If a student is going to miss class for any of those situations or ones similar, there should be a conversation had with their respective professors about arrangements that can be made for them to attend class from a separate location.
The Equinox isn’t saying that online attendance should go without explanation completely. Students that are able should be required to go to class in person like it was a regular school year. But a line of communication should be created between student and instructor about the extenuating circumstance, so no credit is unnecessarily lost. Within that communication needs to be an understanding of humanity, empathy and responsibility for each other. Sometimes assignments get missed if there is a personal loss, so an extra week on the deadline might be beneficial to those grieving and behind in their work. It also would be useful to have professors put up an emergency Zoom link for situations that weren’t planned ahead of time.
Overall communication and empathy are going to be the keys to successfully using Zoom as a tool for classes in the future. The Equinox thinks the professors at Keene State College should reevaluate their Zoom policies and make sure that in less-than-ideal cases, students don’t have to miss class.