Now that Meredith College classes have returned to a majority in-person format, there has been some confusion about when and under what circumstances students can join in-person classes on Zoom. However, Senior Vice President and Provost Matthew Poslusny, along with the academic deans, the Director of Health Services and the Assistant Director for Disability Services, have established a policy about Zoom offerings for students. The Herald reached out to Dr. Poslusny for clarification on these policies.
Some students have expressed a desire to be able to join class on Zoom when they are ill but do not have COVID-19, for mental health reasons or when they are otherwise unable to come to campus. However, professors have been given guidance by administration to not allow students to join class on Zoom in these situations. Dr. Rebecca Duncan, Professor of English, said that she “follow[s] [her] attendance policy and allows each student two Zooms.” She continued, “I figure that if they are home and resting or not feeling well, they might as well listen in, even though they can't really participate…if they Zoom in, they are using [their two] absences.”
When asked under what circumstances Zoom classes are provided for students who cannot attend class, Dr. Poslusny stated, “At [this] time [Zoom is] for students that [are] either quarantining or isolating. We are in discussions now to further expand the circumstances to include other documented absences from class.” He explained that these policies were created because “the expectation [for the Fall 2021 semester] is that the majority of classes would be held in person.”
There are no protocols in place for professors holding classes on Zoom instead of in-person at the last minute. Dr. Poslusny said, “There are some instances where faculty have been given permission to teach the entire semester online…For courses that are being offered in person, the course has been conceptualized as an in-person course and the best experience is for the student to be in class.”
Dr. Kelly Wilder, Assistant Professor of Marketing, said that while she enjoyed “switching up” the way she delivered course material on Zoom last year, her current classroom does not have a Zoom board so students can’t join on Zoom if they need to miss class. She also said that while she does enjoy Zoom teaching, she prefers to teach face-to-face. “Trying to do both [methods of teaching] at once is pretty challenging,” she said.
Some students have argued that the inability to Zoom into class for reasons other than quarantine affects their grades and health. Dr. Poslusny stated, “It is important to remember that [Zoom] gives the student the opportunity to follow along but does not give the same opportunities for participating.” He further added that “there are always times when [being in class in person] is not possible and Zoom is just one method that can be used to help a student stay caught up in class.”
By Freya Dahlgren, Staff Writer