COVID Policy Reform at Bay Path University
COVID Policy Reform at Bay Path University
Our futures as students as well as the careers of professors across the education sphere have suffered during the COVID pandemic. Many of us have had no choice but to take this impact in stride and adapt. In efforts to mitigate negative consequences of continuous changes in case numbers and adapting to 'new normals' seemingly every day, communication has been key in keeping the system running. Bay Path University has fallen far behind dozens of other universities and colleges in the region. Students’ frustrations due to a lack of consistent communication from those on the COVID Task Force are being vented and voiced into the void as we come closer to the expected start date of the Spring 2022 semester.
The most recent variant, Omicron, has a significant amount of data coming in daily that is suggesting vaccination or even boosters may not be enough to stop its spread. While symptoms are, thankfully, reported to be the most mild of any variant thus far, there is still potential, especially among a young, low risk student body, to possibly spread the virus to at-risk loved ones. The consistent inconsistencies in policy change are beginning to cause widespread flare-ups of a cognitive allergy; highly averse to copy-pasted, HR-approved responses to questions. If the lack of communication from the university leaves you scratching your head, it’s OK, you likely have an allergy to nonsense.
Will we be attending in person? Will we be starting off doing online classes? Will we do online classes for the whole semester? Knowledge is power. It is being granted that these are highly contentious decisions to make. But the worst choice, above all, is indecision. The time for the answer to these questions was weeks ago. There is now no excuse. This is a call for administrators to put aside the financial impact to the university, which is blatantly their main focus, and truly prioritize the health and safety of their students and staff they so frequently claim to care about. The philosophical concept of ‘parrhesia’ makes apparent the difficulty of speaking truth in the face of danger. We must not fear consequences from using our voices to protect ourselves and others when inept policy runs awry of reason and logic.
We know that administration from all professions and workforces are scrambling to adapt. We are a generation whose futures are being toyed with enough by constant shifts in national policy related to the pandemic. Don't let our trust in your leadership as university leaders wane any further. Rebuild that trust. Communicate with us when things are difficult. Tell us if you are also having trouble hearing from policy makers locally, regionally, or nationally who are meant to provide you, the administrators, with guidance. Our frustrations with you mirror your frustrations with them, we are left to surmise. We are, truly, all in this together. If you don't know an answer to a question, state it clearly. Show us the efforts you've made to find the answers.
What we as students are asking for is that the decision the university makes is this:
Students can decide for themselves if they attend in person or online, and not be penalized for choosing one or the other. Students may freely come into a class one day, or do it online the next time. Anticipating that there will inevitably be students who do test positive for COVID and are unable to attend class for some period of time, having a contingency to run classes as hybrid from the start seems the only logical choice that can be made given the circumstances. It will be the most accommodating and inclusive for the students that have family members who are at high risk for developing serious illness from COVID. They will not have to choose between furthering their education or putting loved ones at risk – they can accomplish both and sacrifice nothing.
Here is a copy of Bay Path’s ‘Guiding Principles’. They are failing to adhere to their own statements on numerous fronts:
First, all aspects of the health and well-being of all our students and our entire community are paramount.
Second, the delivery of our academic programs, services, and co-curricular activities will continue to foster achievement and engagement among each of our unique student populations.
Third, our decision-making is based on data, science, and the guidelines established by external experts, and we will be prepared to respond quickly and effectively as demanded by evolving public-health concerns.
And finally, our ability to teach and learn together in a safe environment requires that all members of our community lean on one another and follow established guidelines consistently and compassionately. “We all share and accept the responsibility for keeping ourselves and each other healthy.”
We will end with a quote from the late physicist Richard Feynman, who once stated, ever so presciently, “I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned.”