Canvas account

A student logs into her Canvas account and looks over her courses.

In order to adhere to and recognize the various challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brings to an average college student’s everyday life, professors need to remain flexible with their course structures and do away with strict attendance policies.

While the battle of online class instruction still lingers among college students throughout the course of the ongoing pandemic, new and difficult obstacles continue to appear as we face deadlines, exams, life issues and outside work efforts.

We all miss the normality and atmosphere that college used to bring to our everyday lives. We miss sitting in class next to strangers and walking aimlessly throughout campus free to talk to anyone without the anxiety that comes with this new norm of distanced socialization. However, we never asked for this pandemic to surface and change the way we all hoped college would be.

When it comes to online instruction, I know I’m not the only one to sometimes struggle. Without being on campus, some students have had to adapt to this new way of learning. Some have taken this unprecedented opportunity and taken up an extra job or extra hours, some have moved home to live with their families, and some have created a new way of learning that is more self-disciplined.

Online coursework and attendance policies need to remain flexible. Don’t get me wrong, I was always one to attend class when we were able to in person. I learned best that way, listening in on the lecture and taking notes as it went along. But that’s not the case anymore, and times have changed.

To require attendance in order to pass a course prior to COVID-19 causing most courses to take over in an online format is one thing, but to require synchronous attendance for online lectures in order to pass a class, is absolutely crazy to me. As I’ve said before, students have had to adapt to these challenging times and their average day no longer looks like it did when we were able to walk to class, sit down, take out a notebook and write lecture notes in front of an instructor.

Some professors have created a format where they give students the option to attend lectures via online video conferencing rooms, and if students are unable to attend, that lecture is uploaded to Canvas and can be viewed throughout the duration of the course. This is how it should be. If some professors can show flexibility within course structure throughout this time, other professors should be able to do the same.

“If a student misses three or more class sessions, that student will automatically fail the course,” is no longer acceptable in a time of continuous uncertainty and change. Flexibility within course structure and attendance policies absolutely needs to be considered and worked into the academic curriculum during a public health crisis.

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