For the next month students will be checking their MyLSU accounts to see which classes are being moved online, rushing to make schedule changes and order textbooks, worrying about having enough masks and mentally preparing for the challenges ahead. It’s easy to visualize what that’s like because most of us are experiencing those very issues and concerns, but what must it be like to be on the other side of the classroom right now? What’s it like to be a professor during a global pandemic?
On July 9 The Reveille published an article in which both professor and student perspectives were given regarding the return to campus in the fall, and as difficult as it may to be a student right now, being a professor seems infinitely more stressful.
Students quoted in the article were optimistic and excited, like chemical engineering junior Hunter Meatte who is excited "to see everyone interact again," while Communications professor Robert Mann thinks it's "overly optimistic" to consider a full semester in-person a possibility. Mann continued on talking about his research and preparation for online teaching, something he and many other professors haven't previously had much experience in.
I doubt very many professors – or teachers at any level – anticipated having to deal with a global pandemic or 100% virtual learning when they applied for their positions. None of us signed up for this, but at least as students we have the option of deferring for a couple semesters.
University professors have been given the choice whether to move their courses online or continue to hold in person classes. The psychological weight of making a decision which impacts the education, health and safety of so many people seems unbearable. If professors decide to go online, they’ll be admonished for compromising the education of students and wasting tuition money, but if they continue in person, they’ll be accused of endangering the lives of students and their families.
A lot of universities have decided to resolve the ethical question by simply moving a majority of classes online, with some exceptions for labs which cannot be conducted virtually, according to Inside Higher Ed.
The University has made some efforts to ensure the safety of its students in the coming semesters, but it seems as though our professors haven’t received the same courtesy. The Roadmap to Fall does leave provisions for staff members to work remotely from home, but that’s not possible for everyone.
For many faculty and staff, such as janitorial staff, groundskeepers and professors, on campus and in person activities are crucial for their continued employment. We as students may complain about how unfair the situation is, but in reality, we have it pretty easy compared to others at LSU.
While we’re guaranteed to be stressed and go through a major adjustment period, be sure to remember that our professors are, too. They’re making decisions they think are in our best interest – whether that puts us online or in a classroom – and at the end of the day they’re on our side. They didn’t sign up for teaching during a global pandemic, they’re dealing with the same anxieties, loneliness and isolation that we are and it’s going to take a lot of cooperation, patience and understanding from all of us to make it successfully through the fall semester.
Marie Plunkett is a 21-year-old Classical Studies major from New Orleans, Louisiana.