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Students report varying experiences with COVID-19-related class absences

Ohio University students report receiving unexcused absences from professors or unaccepted assignments due to COVID-19-related absences. 

Logan Jeffries, a freshman studying media arts production, missed class and quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19. He initially had to wait a few days to get a test and ended up missing two weeks of class total, including quarantine. 

Jeffries had no trouble keeping up with his online classes. However, the in-person classes that made up half of his schedule were more difficult. Many of his courses did not offer a virtual option, so he was unable to attend lectures. 

“I had one class that offered for me to join virtually, but they didn't end up coming through with that,” Jeffries said. “I just was missing class.”

Professors are not required to provide a video-call class option for students who are unable to attend class due to COVID-19, Cary Frith, chief of staff to the executive vice president and provost, said. 

Though Jeffries emailed his professors explaining his situation and why he would be missing class, he found communication challenging, as he was not getting responses from some professors. 

“They were all pretty understanding about it, but it just took some of them a while to actually respond to me,” Jeffries said. “I was kind of left in the dark for a few classes for almost two weeks.”

In one class, Jeffries noticed his attendance grade dropping despite his attempts at communicating to his professor the reason for his absence. Jeffries said it took a couple of weeks to get his failing grade restored to normal. 

According to university academic policy, student absences related to COVID-19, including absences while students are quarantining, are “legitimate absences.” 

However, the experience of Jeffries is not universal. 

Luke Suver, a sophomore studying biology, said his professors were generally accommodating when he had to miss class while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. He said his biology professor sent him a voice-over of the PowerPoint reviewed during the in-person class he missed. 

However, anticipating he would not be able to come to class in-person while his test results were pending, Suver did not print out a weekly assignment for one of his other courses. 

When the test results came back negative, Suver attended class the day the assignment was due, and his professor said they would not accept the assignment late, resulting in a zero. 

“It seemed pretty rude, in my opinion,” Suver said. “I was like, ‘It's not my fault at all. I'm surprised you're not being lenient about this.’ I hadn't ever missed an assignment, either. I've done all the homework, and I was just like ‘OK, I guess.’”

Though university academic policy provides recommendations for how to address students impacted by COVID-19, much is up to individual professor discretion as to how many classes or assignments a student is permitted to miss, Frith said. 


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