Tea Time with Tagwa: In-person classes are an unnecessary risk

Illustration by Karly Andersen

Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor

Tea timers, I remember how badly I wanted to be on campus this time last year. 

With grocery stores empty, stores closed and classes moved online, life felt extremely abnormal. We were dealing with the new normal, but we didn’t know it yet.

When two of my classes got moved back in person this semester, my previous excitement turned into inevitable dread. Back in March last year, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t seem real; many of us thought we’d be back to normal in no time. A year later, the virus still runs rampant in our lives.

VCU opened up its classrooms for in-person instruction on March 4. Classes that were originally scheduled for in-person learning but moved online at the start of the spring semester picked back up face to face. That meant two of my classes were back on campus.

I won’t lie — while I was terrified to be back in person, I was intrigued to see how VCU would phase students back into classrooms. Needless to say, I was unimpressed.

VCU is simply not doing enough to ensure the safety of its students.

Sure, students are required to wear their masks and maintain a social distance from one another, however, even just putting us all in a confined space is reckless and unnecessary. If I saw the need to return to in-person instruction, I could muster up the strength to get over the danger we are in — but I can’t.


Both my classes can be taught online. In fact, for the first half of this semester, they were. Why VCU decided they had to be in person is beyond me.

Some of you might wonder why I signed up for classes that were initially set to be face to face. Well, one of my classes only had two available sections, both of which were in person. As for the other class, it was the only open section I could find. If it were up to me, I’d avoid running the risk of exposing myself to COVID-19. But anything for a buck, right VCU?

The university is also requiring students to show their Entry Pass, which is approved only if students have completed a daily health check. The check-in asks students a simple “yes or no” regarding whether they are showing any active symptoms of COVID-19.

This is just VCU trying to cover its behind. There is no way to confirm that students who answer “no” are truly not feeling any symptoms. It is easy for a student who is feeling sick to answer in the negative because of their professor’s mandatory attendance policy.

I’m sure VCU would tell me that there is no other way of ensuring honesty from students and containing the virus. Which is exactly why we shouldn’t be back on campus. If you cannot verify that students will be safe from exposure during their in-person instruction, then there is no need for face-to-face classes.

There is hope that classes will resume normally in the fall, and that some resemblance of normalcy will return upon the reopening of campus. That may be true. But I don’t appreciate being the test dummy. And that’s the tea.

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