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It is incredibly selfish and irresponsible for professors to be requiring students to attend classes that could easily be taught online. Professors who have the ability to share their lecture over Zoom should not make it mandatory to attend class in-person. While those who are comfortable taking the risk should be able to do so, it should not be acceptable for professors to threaten the grades of those staying home without a written and approved health-related excuse. Many students are struggling not only to juggle schedules that are a confusing and uneven mix of in-person and online classes but also to deal with the serious anxiety that now occurs whenever strangers get too close. While some students may be taking advantage of this more distant form of learning, many are simply just trying to stay safe. Even if 10% of your students are taking advantage of the system, wouldn’t you agree that that is better than having even one student come anywhere close to losing their life because of your lecture?
These are unprecedented circumstances — this is an honest-to-god pandemic and Houghton is now a red zone, meaning that there are more than 25 positive cases per every 100,000 people. The only other red zone in Michigan that also contains a major university is East Lansing. Michigan State University has responded to this alarmingly severe increase in positive cases by shutting down their entire campus and all classes. Students there are expected to self-quarantine for the next 14 days. Michigan Tech, however, has not made any changes to the way they are managing this growing threat.
Your lecture is not more important than my life, and you should not act as though it is. This disease is unique in that there’s no telling for certain who will end up nearly asymptomatic and who will die. While the majority of healthy students this age will be fine, there is a small but significant percentage who won’t be. Do you want to be responsible for that percentage?
EDIT: Hours after this published, MLive reported that Houghton County is now an orange zone. It is the author’s opinion that it is still ridiculous that we were a red zone and so few people were aware.