Students should be able to attend class over Zoom without DSS approval

Ysabella Gonzalez, Reporter

In an email sent out by Academic Affairs on Oct. 18 to California Lutheran University faculty, professors were told to be flexible with their attendance policies for students. The email explained that absences due to COVID-19 symptoms were excused and do not count against a student’s grade.

In that same email, professors were also told that if they feel sick they can choose between canceling class or hosting over Zoom. However, the same courtesy wasn’t given to students. 

Faculty were explicitly told not to allow students to attend class over Zoom, unless those students have approval from Disability Support Services (DSS) or professors have been notified by Academic Services that the student is in isolation or quarantine. Even if a student feels sick, they do not have the option to attend the course virtually. 

In order to be approved by DSS, students will need to complete many processes and paperwork. By the time students get permission, they may already feel better and have already missed their classes. 

Adjunct professor of English Dustin Atkinson said that he found the policy to be strange as students had to get approval first before attending class on Zoom.

“I think it would be simpler if they just could without the approval,” Atkinson said.

This extra step is preventing a lot of students from attending class, even though we just came out of a semester that was entirely online. 

What method students use to attend class shouldn’t matter to the school. We pay tuition to attend class and students may feel more comfortable through a screen after all the time online, or maybe just need a day to themselves. The option takes nothing away from the school, it’s just a matter of preference and health.

Junior D’Ajah Haynes said she found this rule to be something that hindered students, including herself as she already missed a few days from catching a cold. 

“We should be in charge of our own lives and schedules and what not, and even if we’re not sick, not up to going to class physically, emotionally, mentally, we should have that option to just click on into Zoom and there shouldn’t be extra hardships or walls to do that, it should just be a simple thing,” Haynes said. 

Paperwork aside, students’ health shouldn’t be brushed aside in favor of attending class in-person. Some may not want to risk getting other students sick, but don’t want to miss class. Many students have already had to choose between their own health and the health of others, over the prospect of attending a lecture or exam.

Students shouldn’t have to choose. Having the choice of attending over Zoom can provide the means for students to attend classes they are already spending money on. 

In my opinion, this policy is causing more harm than good. Students are forced to attend classes in-person when they can be provided an alternative through Zoom. Attending online should just be a matter of preference versus a school policy that prevents students access to the classroom.