As the pandemic ebbs and flows, UTC’s COVID-19 policies for classroom expectations have evolved with it.
Director of Student Outreach and Support Brett Fuchs spoke on the changes that have come about as a result of previous policies.
“Some of the issues that we were seeing more than last year is that some of the professors were really lenient with people and then students took advantage, so they’re trying to balance that out,” Fuchs said.
There was recently an issue in Dr. Dominique Belanger’s organic chemistry classroom where a student was in quarantine for contracting COVID-19, and the professor did not make accommodations for the student to take an exam at a later time. The exam was scheduled on her seventh day of quarantine, but, after taking a COVID test that showed a negative result, the student arrived to take the exam.
Belanger reported the student to Student Conduct.
The student said she tried to contact Student Outreach and Support during her quarantine period for guidance but cited a lack of communication and direction.
“The University gave me little to no guidance,” the student said. “I told them I had tested positive and was quarantining, and they didn’t give me any instructions on when or what I had to do to come back.”
Fuchs ensured there is communication between the University and the student every step of the quarantining process. There is an email sent out to each student beginning quarantine that lists information for the infected student, and the student is supposed to receive daily texts from the Student Outreach and Support center or Contact Tracing team.
One piece of information that is not included in the informational email is that “if you’re in quarantine, there’s new CDC guidelines that say if you get tested after day five, you can be released on day eight rather than on day 10,” according to Fuchs.
An additional area of confusion for many students is the ever-changing COVID classroom policies.
Each professor is required to include the Faculty Senate-approved COVID Absence Statement in their syllabi, outlining the elected policies the faculty wished to uphold regarding COVID absences this term.
The fall 2021 statement includes, “Students will not be penalized for COVID-19 related concerns unless they are unable to complete the course learning outcomes. Faculty will work reasonably with students to identify ways to complete course requirements.”
Belanger’s syllabus states, “NO MAKE-UP EXAMS will be offered for any reason.”