“Inconsistent at best”: Professors Lac...

“Inconsistent at best”: Professors Lack Guidelines for When Students Test Positive

After over a year and a half of remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most universities fully reopened this year, including DePaul. With COVID-19 guidelines still in place, such as wearing masks indoors, students have been navigating the past month and a half adjusting to their new academic lifestyle.

The current guidelines, along with the enforcement of those guidelines by their teachers in class, play a large role in their experience at DePaul. Many students are satisfied with how things are going, noting that students are following the guidelines, and their teachers are doing well transitioning into a new learning environment along with enforcing COVID-19 protocols.

Sophomore Shayaan Bin-Kamran noted that his teachers ensured the guidelines were being followed, including mask wearing and social distancing, as well as “effectively communicating the consequences of not following them, such as being removed from the classroom by Public Safety.”

In addition, students noted that professors are making it clear to stay home if they feel ill.

Freshman Emaan Khan noted that her WRD 104 classroom has a trimodal room which allows students to “view the classroom on Zoom as if they were there.”

“I like that students can log into Zoom for class if they’re feeling sick so that their attendance still counts,” Khan said.

However, many students have noted that while their professors have discussed and enforced general protocols, there are still gray areas that both they and the students are unaware of, such as what should happen if someone gets COVID in the classroom.

Senior Michaela Souronis said her professors have been great with enforcing the mask protocol and calling out students who don’t follow it, but “none of my professors have said anything about what happens if we get COVID.”

“That is something I wish was brought to my attention since you can still get COVID being fully vaccinated,” Souronis said.

“Now that I’m thinking about it, none of my professors mentioned anything about what would happen if someone in class got COVID,” sophomore Allison Rotsein said.  “This would’ve been awesome since I recently found out that the classmate that is required to sit next to me and work in small groups with me tested positive and is now quarantining at home.”

“It’s funny because last year, everything was about COVID, and now, no one has actually mentioned anything and the masks are now just a part of everyday life.”

Rotsein added that her professors correct those who wear their masks incorrectly, but it’s harder to maintain social distance in classes as large as 30 to 40 people.

Sophomore Megan Boucher said that despite having room to social distance in one of her classes, neither the students nor professor enforce it.

“It’s funny because last year, everything was about COVID, and now, no one has actually mentioned anything and the masks are now just a part of everyday life,” Boucher said.

Similarly, Boucher said that her professors didn’t discuss what would happen if someone tested positive.

Paschke’s professors also have not discussed what would happen if someone in class were to catch COVID.

“The school obviously has a policy about staying at home if you have any symptoms or test positive, but that can be hard for students and extremely stressful if teachers don’t have exact details about what’s to be expected if you have to miss a week or two of school,” Paschke said.

In August, the university updated their guidelines regarding coursework for students who test positive for COVID-19. It states that students should reach to their professors for their personal guidelines, unless the student is looking to receive administrative leave. In that case, they should reach out to the Dean of Students office.

University guidelines prevent faculty from notifying other students within a class in the event that one of their classmates tests positive for COVID-19, due to HIPAA and FERPA concerns, which are laws that deal with student health privacy. This doesn’t prevent a contact tracer from reaching out to members within a class regarding a possible COVID-19 exposure or a classmate telling their other classmates about their positive test.

Sophomore Eva Corcoran had a similar concern regarding students testing positive in her classes, saying her professors never addressed any guidelines.

Corcoran wasn’t aware of on-campus COVID-19 testing, either, until this past week, when she received an email telling her she had been in the same location as someone who tested positive.

“Assuming this ‘location’ was one of my classes, my professor did not mention it or bring it up at all,” Corcoran said.

Some professors have developed seating charts or general seating guidelines in case there is a positive case within their classroom.

Sophomore Zoya Alvi said her physics professor seats her class according to the classes they are taking and their major, so the students she is seated with are people she tends to see throughout the day.

“This is his way of lessening a ‘spread,’” Alvi said. “I thought that was pretty thoughtful!”

Students’ experiences over the course of Fall Quarter have varied in terms of how their professors deal with the continuing pandemic. Generally, they are addressing and enforcing the mask guidelines, but there is uncertainty in the instance of a student testing positive.

Sophomore Maxwell Alexander said that he feels lucky to have many professors, and peers, who care about the COVID-19 policy, “But it seems like the enforcement of the policy across the school is inconsistent at best. These guidelines aren’t meant to be as flexible as some people seem to think they are.”



Want to get an on-campus COVID-19 test? Our latest newsletter has the details on what to do and where to go.


Header image by Teagan Baker