Furman’s current approach to controlling COVID on campus is decidedly laxer than the days of the “Paladin Promise.” Now, based on current guidelines, COVID is only transmitted in academic buildings and will thankfully leave the PAC by 4 p.m. each day. Although I strain to understand the rationale behind Furman’s inconsistent COVID rules, they afford us a refreshing sense of social freedom and have not yet contributed to major outbreaks. However, they are clearly not strong enough to prevent groups of students from being sent home each month.
My group of friends, myself included, can attest to this. After feeling feverish and receiving positive tests, several of us packed our bags and left for home. But it wasn’t until we emailed our professors for accommodations that we were given a rude awakening: almost none of them would be allowing us to zoom into class for the next two weeks.
There seemed to be no excuse beyond the fact that it was simply “not possible.” Obviously, it would pose a minor inconvenience to come to class a little early to set up zoom and share a screen on occasion. But it quickly became clear that the professors that cared were doing far more work than that to keep us up to date while we were absent. Throughout my quarantine, my inbox flooded with email summaries of class sessions and invitations to Box folders—a solution that created more work for professors while confusing and disorienting me.
Sometimes, however, these alternative accommodations were not even provided, leaving some students to have to gather notes from friends and inquire, “What did we do in class today?” According to an anonymous member of the sophomore class, “One of my professors gave barely any resources. It was truly as though I wasn’t in class.” I had a class in which I was penalized for having to quarantine and not allowed to make up certain work. Consequently, students in quarantine find themselves unfairly behind and without crucial understandings for success in their classes.
I understand the hesitancy from professors to use Zoom this year. Last year, it became an excuse to skip or not be as engaged in class, preventing students from managing their time well and investing in their academics. But at the same time, it allowed students in quarantine to maintain a semblance of normalcy while remaining caught up on their work. I believe professors can maintain a firm policy of not allowing Zoom as a cop-out for class while still offering it to students who have proven they are positive for COVID-19. Otherwise, to what will all our Zoom infrastructure and knowledge from the last year go?
Without Zoom, our quarantine began to feel more like a prison sentence. With little structure to our day and no places to go, we were stuck in solitude with the knowledge that we were forfeiting school days while idly and unproductively waiting to return. And if not that, we were scouring through emails, box folders, and friends’ notes to recreate the classroom experience for ourselves.
Even though I returned from quarantine two weeks ago, my semester is still profoundly affected by the time I largely wasted at home. I have missed out on foundational knowledge of most of my courses, only portions of which I’ve been able to recover. In acknowledging that this virus still exists and affects the Furman population, we should have Zoom locked and loaded to prevent experiences similar to mine.