At the beginning of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the attendance policy was changed to allow virtual or in-person attendance according to safety needs. This was mainly set up to allow students in quarantine to be able to participate in class, and it also opened the door for students who may have been feeling ill in general, or who wanted to quarantine before going home to be able to attend class virtually. However, as cases are decreasing and safety measures are better ensured in classes, the option to do classes virtually is becoming less accessible. Now, in order to be excused, students must have a doctor’s note or a note from the COVID case manager. I believe that the option to do class virtually opened the doors for a more accessible educa’/tional experience, and the growing rigidity of the new policies is making it more difficult for students to take care of themselves.
One benefit of the ability to have the option to go to class online for a day is that students can take care of themselves and still be able to go to class. A major problem in our society is that people overwork themselves and don’t take the time to rest and take care of their physical and mental well-being. Until the pandemic, sick days were shunned and difficult to obtain, so people would go to work or school while sick or in a bad mental state out of worry of falling behind in work or school. I personally struggled with this growing up and on one occasion went to school with an active ear rupture because I was scared of missing school. This is a dangerous precedent to set, as it causes people to neglect their health, which is more important than work or school. However, the ability to attend class virtually for a day is beneficial as it allows students the opportunity to rest and take care of themselves without feeling behind in class.
Additionally, it protects other students and professors from possibly getting sick, which will be helpful in the future when being put into quarantine is less common. There are also many common illnesses that are not COVID, that usually resolve in a few days, so students can monitor their symptoms on their own in a safe way. If students can work from home when they have moderate symptoms, they can stay up-to-date with course work so as not to fall behind and be better able to monitor how they are feeling, which could prevent them from getting extremely ill without realizing it.
Another benefit of having class virtually is that students can have the option to attend class in the comfort of their own room if they are feeling overwhelmed, struggling with health issues or having a bad mental health day. College can be overwhelming and often people overwork themselves without taking breaks, which can be detrimental to their health. Having the option to do class online for a day is a start (but far from a solution) to helping students alleviate stress and tend to their emotional well-being, as they can take time to rest or do class in bed and then have the time to get support. Additionally, being in a room with other people could be overwhelming, so having the option to avoid that for a few days can be beneficial.
Overall, having the option to do class virtually has opened up doors into a world where people can better take care of themselves, and have more options for getting an education. By taking away this flexibility, we will fall back into a world where attendance and productivity is more important than health and wellbeing. By broadening attendance policies and allowing students to attend class virtually on days where they do not feel well, we can keep our campus healthy and make sure that no one falls behind in coursework.