University of North Georgia freshman Adam Johnson said he never expected his second semester of college to start with a positive COVID-19 case. In January, Johnson lost his taste of smell and experienced severe migraines and later tested positive for COVID-19.
His first worry was about his class load.
“I’ve heard that some UNG professors aren’t able to record their lessons,” Johnson said. “So I was really worried I’d get behind. I didn’t even think about being sick, I thought about class first.”
Johnson said one professor told him lectures couldn’t be recorded since the classroom wasn’t equipped with the necessary technology. To avoid falling behind, Johnson copied notes from classmates and studied from the required textbook instead of the professors’ lectures.
Dean of Students and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs of UNG’s Gainesville campus, Alyson Paul said only some UNG classrooms are equipped with technology to allow students to remotely join the classroom.
“Unfortunately, we don't have it in all classrooms,” Paul said. “So we've tried to put it in our largest classrooms and be strategic about what classes we put in there.”
The mandatory student paid technology fee equips some classrooms with the recording technology. UNG students pursuing their bachelor’s who are enrolled in 12 credit hours pay a $75 technology fee. The fee supports technology infrastructure and services that include software, computer labs, network and internet access and instructional technology.
Unlike Johnson, Whitney Hall said each of her professors records and uploads their lectures and Powerpoints to eLearning. Hall, a junior nursing student, said professors have said students will not be penalized for absences due to COVID-19 or exposure.
“I think just knowing if you’re absent and you’re sick and you can watch the lectures and be in the classroom remotely helps ease the worries for some,” Hall said.
Since the pandemic, Paul said she’s been directly involved with the university COVID-19 contact tracing and cases on campus. She works with professors and students to discuss how to maintain academic success but also mental health.
“I had one student who had COVID-19 and was actually hospitalized,” Paul said. “They couldn’t finish assignments and then were worried about catching up on all the new assignments, so I helped him communicate those concerns with his professors and find solutions.”
If students feel they are falling behind or are experiencing conflicts with professors, Paul intervenes on behalf of the students. Although some professors can’t record their lectures, Paul said most hybrid courses assign extra assignments in an online format to make up for lack of recorded lectures.
When he self-quarantined for two weeks, Johnson admitted he was surprised at the accommodations and leniency offered by professors. Only one out of his four professors took issue with Johnson turning in late assignments or quizzes as he quarantined. However, he wishes UNG’s technology fee provided recording equipment in all classrooms. As he isolated, he missed the social component of in-person classes. He said a recorded lecture or joining a class via Zoom or technology would’ve helped him stay on track.
“If I could’ve seen my professors face or listen to their lectures I would’ve focused more. It would’ve provided me with some normalcy and distractions as I quarantined,” Johnson said.