Opinion

No Zoom Accommodations in Transition to In-Person Classes

By Aubrianna Gholer

aubrianna.gholer@spartans.ut.edu

UT concluded remote learning opportunities after the summer 2021 semester, and updated their Spartan Health and Shield policy on Aug.11. The updated policy stated that all classes will be in-person and there will not be any remote accommodations for covid-19 related reasons. Although many students are happy to have in-person classes and not sit at a computer all day, not offering COVID-19 accommodations creates new problems. 

In March 2020, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the University of Tampa switched to completely remote classes, allowing many students to take classes from home. This continued throughout the summer semester. During fall of 2020 and spring of 2021, to abide by social distancing guidelines, classes were divided in half with some meeting in person and the other half on zoom with alternating days.

Professors that are considered high-risk often taught their class remotely, however many teachers also allowed students to decide if they were comfortable with in-person class giving them the option to remain remote. 

Many classes at UT involve group collaboration. For example upper level communication, business and lab classes will have students work in groups and/or partners for the duration of the semester. 

When reading over my syllabus for my communication class,  I was surprised to see that a group project was worth 50% of my overall grade. When I arrived in class, my professor said we would have to do alternate assignments if we missed class due to quarantine or isolation to make up missed participation points. On the second day of class we did multiple group activities, and I realized how everything we do in class is done in groups. 

Since most classes have seating charts for contact tracing purposes, it would be incredibly easy for the group members in non-lab classes to collaborate with their team members during class so students have the opportunity to partake in the same lesson. 

“Asynchronous remote learning is one of the most used methods since it provides more flexibility to learners, especially if students feel sick and cannot come to the classroom,” said Lina Gomez-Vasquez, assistant communication professor of communication. “However, instructors should evaluate the type of group work when a student is not in the classroom and assign a task or role that can be completed remotely.”

If a professor has to be in isolation or quarantine this creates another problem. UT typically makes people quarantine for 10-12 days if they test positive for COVID-19. If professors were already allowed to set up their class to be accessible through zoom, this wouldn’t be a problem. 

UT does not mention what the protocol is for class when a professor has to quarantine in their new plan. 

For office hours, some professors are conducting them solely through zoom which I think contradicts the whole idea of making all events in-person. Other Florida universities, both public and private, such as University of Miami, University of South Florida and Eckerd College are still offering some remote classes and accommodations for their students. 

Although I think it’s great UT was trying to return to the normality before the pandemic, I think it’s more important to ensure all students are able to receive the same quality of education throughout the duration of the pandemic.

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