As we begin the spring semester, the two-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic is something on many students’ minds. Many aspects of life have changed as everyone has tried to adjust to the new normal. Masks, online classes, social distancing and vaccines are all things we have had to adapt to over the last two years. Although many are ready to say goodbye to the pandemic and move on, the university is taking measures to ensure the safety of students.
Last semester, students were required to upload proof of vaccination to attend classes. The university has since stated that proof of the COVID-19 booster shot is also required. Despite the ongoing public discourse regarding vaccinations, the university has maintained its stance. Requiring the COVID-19 vaccine and booster is a vital part of the initiative to keep students safe and prevent the spread of the virus and its many variants. Although some students may disagree with the vaccine requirement, the university needs to continue to prioritize the health and safety of students.
In terms of vaccines and the booster shot, the university can be applauded for its efforts. But as everyone has surely noticed since 2020, the general situation is extremely volatile. The unpredictability surrounding COVID-19 is a cause of concern for many students.
It is unfortunate, but as students, we need to be able to adjust to and accept the possibility of online classes. Flexibility is necessary for the upcoming semester, especially considering the high transmission rate of the Omicron variant.
On Jan. 25, the university sent out an email to students announcing that the first week of classes will be delivered online. Last semester, the university community saw a large increase in positive cases when students returned for the semester. The possibility of this happening again is high, which is why having a week of online classes may be the best decision.
In the same email, the university also announced that KN95 masks and surgical masks will be made available to students who need them. By making them available to all students, the university is encouraging safety and taking proper precautions to combat the spread while on campus.
The university taking the step to supply masks to students is an important step in the protection of students. But, the university has said that KN95 masks will be limited to one for each student per week. Although KN95 masks are supposed to be usable for up to a week, it raises the question: should the university be supplying more? By only supplying students with one mask per week, they are limiting options for students.
Although the university is only providing one mask a week per student, this is a step in the right direction. But will it be enough? In addition to the university’s current initiatives, they also need to be receptive to student concerns that may come up throughout the semester.
While students have to be flexible in terms of masks, vaccines and online classes, the university should also maintain a level of flexibility to help students adjust. Although many students struggled with online classes, certain benefits are lacking with in-person instruction. With online classes, students were able to attend class even if they were sick or had come in contact with someone who was sick. With in-person classes, the level of precaution is increased, resulting in what could be a high number of absences for some students.
By having strict attendance policies, options for students are limited. Going to class with possible exposure to COVID-19 is not worth an attendance grade, and students shouldn’t be penalized for prioritizing their health and the health of other students. Throughout the pandemic, many professors have been understanding in terms of attendance, but with the lack of an online class option and the pandemic continuing, the flexibility needs to remain.
To ameliorate this issue, some professors used UD Capture last semester, a platform that allows professors to record audio of the class and share it with students. While this was a helpful tool, some classes require more of a visual to fully understand the material. If the case numbers continue to rise, a possible solution is having a hybrid model, where both in-person and Zoom are options for attendance.
With nearly two years of the pandemic behind us, many students are eager to return to the world we used to know. But, with the spring semester quickly approaching, both students and the university need to be receptive and understanding to the present situation. Students need to be able to understand what’s best for their safety, and the university needs to do the same.
The Review’s weekly editorials are written to reflect the majority opinion of The Review’s staff. This week’s editorial was written by Lily Williams. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.