As Meredith College returns to mostly in-person classes this semester, faculty, staff and students are learning how to best keep the campus community safe. The College’s COVID-19 Community Standards were established for this purpose; however, some students have experienced varying levels of adherence to these standards in the classroom. The Herald interviewed students and professors to get their perspectives on COVID-19 safety in the classroom and readjustment to in-person course modality.
When asked about COVID-19 safety in the classroom, Madara Hazen, ‘25, said that her professors are “divided in how they follow the COVID-19 standards” with some being extremely “rigorous” with protocols while others do not tell students to cover their noses with masks while in class. Hazen, who is vaccinated, still has “concerns for [her] safety” but even more so for those who have not yet been able to be vaccinated. An anonymous student has similar concerns. They said they are “unsure of how students in [their] classes are exposed in other classes that do not necessarily follow the guidelines as strictly” which creates some fear for them.
Dr. Tim Hendrix, Associate Professor of Mathematics, expressed being “both excited and nervous about the return to in-person classes.” Dr. Hendrix is more accustomed to “active learning strategies in class” like having students work in groups or use the white boards, so being unable to roam around the classroom to monitor and interact with students is more difficult. In addition, “Going for long periods of time with a mask and not being able to take a sip of water in class is tiring for students and faculty alike,” he said. Dr. Hendrix wanted to be clear that “these are all minor inconveniences that we can navigate if it is important to have the opportunity for in-person learning,” and he expressed gratitude to students who “respect the Community Standards and put others’ safety above their own convenience.”
Some students are finding the transition back to in-person classes less smooth. An anonymous student said that many of their professors are “inadequately prepared” and that “a good portion of class time is spent trying to figure out how to set up and function the Zoom board.” They continued to explain that in their schedule, online classes are strictly for infected students and that their professors have a set number of “excused and unexcused Zoom days” but overall, faculty have been accommodating with regards to students infected with COVID-19. On the faculty side, Dr. Hendrix pointed out that it takes extra planning for professors to set up Zoom accommodations for students. For many professors, instructing students in-person and managing a Zoom call at the same time is a new experience.
Finally, Dr. Hendrix reminded students that being vigilant and putting “the safety of others first will help us to get through this.” He said, “I encourage students and other Meredith community members to consider being vaccinated...We often do not realize how much our personal decisions impact those around us and how far that impact reaches.”
By Shae-Lynn Henderson, Staff Writer