Allowing Remote Attendance: Professors Should Respect Students’ Wishes to Zoom Into In-Person Classes
by Madeline Morkin ’22
Asst. Opinion Editor
While many Providence College students are on campus, all were given the opportunity to study remotely for this semester, just as they were last semester. With COVID-19 outbreaks still occurring worldwide as well as on campus, an option for online attendance is entirely necessary for students who need to be at home full-time, in isolation if they contract the virus themselves, or in quarantine if they are a close contact of a student who tests positive for COVID-19.
This opportunity for students to attend classes remotely through Zoom has left professors to figure out how to deal with the difficult issue of split classroom—students attending class in person and online simultaneously.
While professors should be given some slack when it comes to the inevitable imperfections and malfunctions of the split classroom, professors should also understand that some students who are not fully remote or in isolation or quarantine may feel the need to attend class remotely from time to time.
It should be noted with gratitude that professors have experienced intense stress while attempting to maintain any bit of possible normalcy inside the classroom and on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, it should also be understood that students are still figuring out their own routines with this new normal.
With it now being over one year since COVID-19 entered and took control over the country, the majority of PC students have now experienced much irregularity and discomfort, including the serious illness and loss of acquaintances, friends, and family members. The proper and well-deserved grief which should follow such experiences is not only unlikely but also often impossible to attain during a time of isolation and six-feet-apart mandates.
For these reasons, it may be difficult for any student to attend a particular class in person. Oftentimes, though, professors become irritated with the fact that students who have the ability to attend class in person are not doing so because this disrupts the potential for normalcy in the classroom that professors are trying so hard to maintain.
PC’s on-campus outbreaks have left many students hesitant to leave the comfort of their dorms or houses. Illnesses and losses over the past year have pushed students into less stable mental states where they may feel irregularly emotional or uncomfortable inside a classroom full of students. Increased testing on campus and a decreased desire to be forced into quarantine have pushed students to stop showing up in person.
For these reasons, among many others, professors should understand that the potential of on-campus normalcy might not be necessary or possible at this time.
While professors and students alike long for the same sense of normalcy that they were once able to exhibit thoughtlessly when teaching and attending classes over a year ago, it is currently not an option. Professors and students should equally respect each other’s needs during this time.
Students living on campus do not necessarily imply by their mere presence that they feel secure enough to attend classes in person. What their presence on campus does mean is that they felt ready to step outside of the homes which they were stuck inside for months during the nationwide quarantine mandates that were provoked by COVID-19’s initial entrance into the U.S. over a year ago.
Students’ presence on campus means that they thought or once felt that they were ready to see other students and professors six feet apart. Their presence on campus should not imply that attending classes in person is always an option for them mentally.
Professors should not be disappointed on days when an on-campus student’s name pops up virtually on Zoom. Attending class online is still attending class, regardless of the reasons for choosing to be online.
So, while PC’s professors and students lament a more normal campus life, there should be a mutual understanding of each other’s needs on any given day. While this mutual understanding will benefit campus life for now, it is also important that the College recognizes such stresses and discomforts for the fall 2021 semester.
PC should continue to offer a fully remote option for students who may not feel mentally or socially ready to attend classes in person even once the vaccine is more widely distributed. The COVID-19 pandemic was unexpected for everyone, and the College needs to be continuously understanding and intentional when considering the healthiest options for the members of its community.