For the past two years, online learning has changed the way students and teachers operate, allowing those who have to miss physical class due to “unforeseen circumstances” to attend class virtually. Virtual learning permits the students who are committed to their studies to continue to come to class when they have something else going on; it also lets professors do the same. When professors and students speak or present at conferences or stay home for their family, they are able to continue to teach and learn essential lessons from home.
In addition to the benefits of virtual options in other emergency situations, virtual learning should be considered essential during the current pandemic conditions. Omicron is not going anywhere. Students who are worried about getting COVID-19, having symptoms, are in quarantine, or waiting for a result are all possible examples of legitimate absences. If students are forced to pick between staying on top of classwork and their personal safety, they might feel pressured to show up to class even if it could be dangerous to themselves, fellow students, or professors. Not all professors are accommodating or approachable.
If Furman wishes to stay open, as well as follow through with their goals of prioritizing students’ well-being, it is clear that their policy must change. The current policy states that they “do not guarantee remote access to academic courses and/or any other offerings during quarantine or isolation”. This means that a student who is in quarantine or isolation could miss up to five consecutive classes with zero accommodation from professors. However, Furman has spent countless time and money ensuring virtual operations would run smoothly in previous COVID-19 semesters. Recently, Furman required virtual operations for students/professors during the recent harsh weather conditions. This demonstrates that Furman staff, faculty, and students are all familiar with virtual operations. So, why should we not continue to use this technology to give students the best opportunity to succeed academically while coping with Covid-19 conditions?
As a homeschooled high school student, I utilized curricula through online schools to learn. I navigated high school effortlessly and was able to transition into college seamlessly. I am not undisciplined or lazy as some professors fear will result from online learning. Eventually, when Furman is able to move on from COVID-19, allowing students to participate in class virtually will give students the chance to thrive academically. Professors could adjust their syllabi to cater to virtual accommodations. Giving a legitimate reason for the absence encourages students to participate if possible and supports their academic success. Whether it be surgery, a family emergency, mental health, etc., virtual attendance can redefine the approach to aiding students when unable to physically attend.
Here is the link to sign the petition: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdENYLEofDDv_8y0hmQ-EcMuJvqCmVHu_f5ffdCpIA98Qsc6A/viewform