Students See Discrepancies in Sickness Policies Now that the College has Returned to “Normal”

By Vanessa Igras, Staff Writer

Gettysburg College students have been back in person for the entirety of this semester and in the spirit of normalcy, the College has witnessed the return of the common cold—or what students across America are calling the “frat flu.” This common cold variant appears to have symptoms extraordinarily similar to that of COVID-19. Additionally, this cold has the tendency to last weeks on end and thus, forces students to attend class whilst sick. Frustration among students is evident as accommodations are not being met in the rampant spread of this common cold variant. Opinions vary; however, an overwhelming sense of frustration appears to stem from the College’s race to normalcy.

In the journey of returning to pre-pandemic times, Adjunct Economics Instructor Monica Zazworsky feels that “the College reverting back to in-person class experiences is essential.” In this light, Gettysburg College continues to hold students accountable for all missed work that may have resulted from an absence in a class. Adrienne Poissant ’22 explains that in fact, “most policy is similar to pre-COVID policies, meaning any more than three days missed causes a reduction in grades unless you communicate with the professor.”

Without the threat of a pandemic, instructors were under no obligation to make special arrangements for students who were absent from classes. This changed when the pandemic introduced a range of new obstacles for college faculty and students. The pandemic, however, also introduced a new approach to learning. With the increased usage of Zoom and Google Meets, the capabilities of students and teachers have been extended. Undoubtedly, day-to-day life on Zoom during the virtual semesters proved to be torturous and mundane for most. In a striking contrast, in-person learning this semester has been what Fiona Cheyney ’24 calls, “a breath of fresh air.”

Now with the reality of in-person classes and activities, students and professors do not resort to Zoom out of necessity but rather out of convenience. Many professors have been advised against the use of Zoom by their departments, and many have ridded of the Zoom option—but not Zazworsky. She enforces in-person learning but logs onto Zoom with every lecture and records them as a means of providing a “solution for dealing with students [who are] feeling ill or [have] other things like sports, field trips, family emergencies, court dates, etc. that make attending [class] impossible.”

Zazworsky believes that in providing a Zoom option for students, she can help make “them feel less stressed about having to miss the class.” She also mentioned how “this technology allows [her] to continue with the course even if snow and ice keep [her],” from safely leaving home.

Gettysburg College student Gia Komst ’24, expressed her uncertainty about providing the online option for lectures, saying, “many students abuse the privilege of Zoom.” Although this proves to be a rational fear, there are ways to mitigate the negative effects of this technology. For example, Zazworsky has her students send her an email that supplies sufficient evidence and justification for joining through Zoom.

“I would like to see the College keep the technology available for professors to use as an option and as a way to relieve emotional and physical stress on students who have legitimate reasons to miss classes,” said Zazworsky.

The practice of Zoom within the classroom setting has been greatly reduced; Zazworsky’s take on the matter is merely an exception. Based on this observation, many students are frustrated by the College’s rapid elimination of an effective and useful technology. Cheyney expresses her frustration surrounding the lack of accommodations in a world where COVID-19 continues to be a threat. “Many of my peers are doing the responsible thing: staying in their dorms and getting tested. However, this results in missing class time, exams that have no make-up dates, and class presentations. Students are now forced to choose between their grades and their health.”

“Many students, myself included, feel that Zoom should be an option for sick students,” Cheyney added.

This article originally appeared on page 16 of the December 6, 2021 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.

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Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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