With a new semester of classes starting amidst a pandemic, the entire Amarillo College community has been tasked with instituting new safety guidelines and adhering to them, yet frankly, we’re just not following through.
The college, as an organization, has taken on the responsibility of providing a safe, successful space to learn this fall, but in several areas, we seem to be missing the mark.
A major problem is that students aren’t being informed about the COVID-19 cases on campus. There doesn’t appear to be any communication platform publicly available that communicates to students the prevalence of infection. AC students expected to be informed, like the general public, about public health concerns affecting them. How many students and staff have COVID-19? How many people are quarantined? We, as students, certainly need to know that information, and yet it isn’t available.
Most importantly perhaps when it comes to problematic changes this semester, is the expectation that many students must adhere to an alternating in-class schedule, where students who have specifically signed up for face-to-face learning now have to defer half of their time to online attendance to minimize the number of students occupying any room at once.
Although this may be necessary to ensure social distancing rules, many students signed up to attend in-person classes due to their learning styles.
When paying full tuition, students don’t expect to have to give up half of their in-class time. When you run through the fast food drive-thru for a meal, you don’t expect half of your burger to come hot and ready while the other half comes frozen ready to microwave at home without feeling like you’re not getting what you expected or paid for.
Students aren’t exactly off the hook though when it comes to holding up their end of the safety bargain on campus. Remembering to respect social distancing rules and wearing masks properly falls squarely on the shoulders (or, should we say, the faces) of the students.
You don’t wear a gas mask with your nose out and expect the Sarin gas not to get you, so the same must hold true for any other contaminant, including COVID-19. Many students, however, have been seen not following effective mask protocols, and when it comes to social distancing the same holds true.
Ultimately, there are too many safety precautions and protocols that do not seem to be followed effectively, although they almost certainly are necessary. When guidelines aren’t being taken seriously, it comes at the expense of student learning.
Classes are hard as it is and while adding COVID-19 protocols to the mix adds to the challenge, not adhering to expectations only makes the school experience harder. It makes us all feel like we’re not getting what we need to be successful. Let’s do better.