Upon receiving my positive COVID-19 test, I earned a prestigious spot on the top floor of Emerson Hall until the end of the week. I had one hour to return to my dorm and pick up the supplies I would need to survive from a typical Tuesday to Friday morning. Upon returning to my new abode, I was given forms to fill out and emails to read. Besides this reading, I realized I would have to find a solution to attending class.
Every student treats attendance and their health differently, but I am of the belief that if I am spending thousands a week to attend classes at Ithaca College, I am going to attend. So I took to my inbox to alert my professors that I could not attend classes for the rest of the week and asked if I could attend virtually. This did not seem far-fetched to me, as we were less than a year removed from hybrid classes and still amid a pandemic. To my surprise, I was greeted with only one Zoom link out of three responses from my professors throughout my quarantine.
It baffles my mind that students in isolation, already struggling to keep themselves busy within their dorm room between the two hours of “outside time” allowed, are not given the option to attend classes virtually. For a school that has “equity” among its core values, it does not give students in quarantine a fair shake when it comes to attending class.
Attending the one class virtually, I was able to feel engaged with the material and get my work done diligently. Because of this, I was aware of where the rest of the class was regarding the project we were working on; I could ask questions and remain in sync with the rest of the class. But in the classes I missed, I had to guess what we were being taught in lectures based on PowerPoints and homework in the remaining classes on my schedule. If a student is placed in isolation for longer than three days, I cannot see a reasonable way for them to remain in line with the rest of their peers.
I have very few complaints about how I was treated by the staff at Emerson Hall. They were accommodating and made sure I was taken care of. However, there was no guidance regarding what should be done with class attendance. “Outside time” was scheduled during my classes, implying that I had to choose the classes I was paying for or the few minutes outside that I was allotted per day. I care about my education and I care about my future, yet if I am affected by a disease I had no choice in catching, my education gets put on hold. A few days is not that much in the grand scheme of things, but the initial estimate of isolation time I was given extended beyond a full week. This meant missing possibly crucial lessons that are required to build upon for the rest of the semester and possibly for the rest of my college career.
For something as out of our control as COVID-19, the policies and support system that is very much in the college’s control regarding COVID-19 fails on many fronts. The accommodations in isolation are acceptable; however, the ability for students to attend class and use the resources that were available less than a year ago is weak. The inability to attend classes only drags isolated students’ mental health downward, adding to boredom and classwork struggles. I cannot see any downsides to allowing all students, regardless of location and health, to attend class remotely and get the education they deserve.