Opinion: How the pandemic should change higher education


Few things are more invalidating as a college student than needing to receive a doctor’s note to miss class when you are sick without getting docked points. Oftentimes students will come down with something as simple as a bad cold that doesn’t warrant a doctor’s visit but makes physically attending class hard. Weighing the pros and cons of missing a class with a mandatory attendance policy for something like a cold usually results in the sick student attending class and potentially spreading their cold to their classmates.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the dangers of having sick people up in areas like large lecture halls or even smaller classrooms, and it has shown that schools and professors are capable of using technologies like Zoom to teach even when students aren’t physically in class. Once the pandemic is over, colleges should apply their new skills to help sick students stay home and recover while still being able to receive an education.

BYU’s registration policy says, “Students are expected to attend classes for which they are registered,” and class instructors can determine how attendance factors into a student’s final grade. The policy puts the responsibility on the student to notify their instructor of any emergency absences. Allowing sick students to either use Zoom to attend class if they are sick or access a class recording at a later time does not go against the school’s attendance policy; the student is still attending class. As long as the student notifies the instructor, the use of these technologies should not result in a loss of class points.

Giving students this opportunity will help them recuperate faster and continue to learn while eliminating the risk of spreading whatever cold or flu they might catch during a semester. These methods might not be as effective as in-class learning, but they are certainly better than missing class entirely or showing up sick and putting others at risk.

Lisi Merkley
Desk Editor

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