Don’t require students to go in person on exam days

Emily Harrison, Columnist

In the midst of what feels like a never-ending pandemic, professors are still holding classes either fully online or hybrid. Some hybrid classes give students the choice to be completely online or in person. 

When it comes to exam day, however, some professors require every student to attend in person to take the exam. Full capacity classes put students at risk for COVID-19, especially with large classes. Students take hybrid classes for the option to feel safe, but being required to take a test in a full-capacity classroom counteracts that safety. Professors who teach hybrid classes should not require students to go in person to take tests.

Exercise science freshman Dorothy Byerly expressed her concern with the uncertainty of not knowing if her peers were vaccinated or not, and how being so close together brought her discomfort in the classroom. 

“Even though a lot of us are vaccinated, and COVID is sort of declining, I’m still not fully comfortable with being at full capacity with so many people close together,” Byerly said. “Some people don’t wear a mask and that just doesn’t make me the most comfortable, so I’d prefer to have the option to go in person or to do it online through a proctor and on a website.”

Although professors may be concerned about students cheating in an online setting, proctoring tests is always an option. There are ways to make sure students are practicing academic integrity without requiring them to be in person.  

Philosophy sophomore Myles Deol mentioned they feel like this comes from a lack of trust from professors.

“If you trust people to engage with you, like on any other given day, then why not trust them to take the test (online)?” Deol said.

Personally, for my hybrid class, I often attend in person, but on test days I feel overwhelmed when every seat on each side of me, in front of me and behind me has someone sitting in it.

Byerly mentioned she had the same preference and enjoyed having the option to attend online whenever she needed to.

“I’ve attended Math 302 (mostly) in person because I just prefer the in-person learning environment. That’s just what works best for me,” Byerly said. “But on days when I’m not feeling well, or just feel more comfortable being online, I have gone online a few times throughout the semester.”

Even for students who enjoy the in-person environment like Byerly and me, hybrid classes make us feel more at ease because students are more spread out on a regular class day. On in-person exam days, we lack the option to learn safely.

Philosophy lecturer Nicole Smith conveyed why they thought it was important to have the option for both in person and online testing.

“I think the most important (thing) is that everybody feels like their boundaries around safety are being respected,” Smith said. “And that means having options to, on any given day, do what you think works for you and your sense of what is safe. Given that the pandemic is something that (is) ebbing and flowing, (it’s important), to create some measure of stability through giving people options.”

Like Smith mentioned, with the pandemic still occurring, stability in classes is important. Every professor should consider this mindset when organizing testing. Until the pandemic comes to an end, professors teaching hybrid classes need to give students the option to take their tests in person or online.

Harrison is a journalism freshman from Dallas, Texas.