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Student Government petition calls for quarantine learning support

Quarantine Learning Support Act petition
A petition published Sept. 28 by members of Boston University Student Government urges the administration to adopt the Quarantine Learning Support Act – which calls for the University to urge all faculty to improve accommodations to students quarantining from COVID-19. ILLUSTRATION BY CONOR KELLEY/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

A petition published Tuesday by members of Student Government urged the Boston University administration to adopt the Quarantine Learning Support Act, an act introduced and moved forward at Monday’s meeting.

The petition calls for the University to encourage faculty across all colleges and departments to record and post lectures online for students who are unable to attend class due to COVID-19 and other illnesses, having a yellow badge and family and medical emergencies. 

The petition currently has over 2,500 signatures. 

Hessann Farooqi, BU Student Government’s executive vice president and a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the petition to implement the Quarantine Learning Support Act was both a proactive measure and response to rising case numbers. 

“This is certainly a very pressing issue,” Farooqi said. “Especially with some of the small spikes in COVID cases in the early parts of September.”

Several students have said the University has yet to offer a systemic structure for students in quarantine or isolation to keep up with missed classes. 

Jennifer Ortiz Valverde, a sophomore in the College of Fine Arts who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this semester, said there was no set plan available after she went into isolation housing.

“There’s not one uniform format,” she said. “The professors either bring it up or just wait until the situation happens.” 

Ortiz Valverde said the only accommodation she was offered was the option to have a fellow student drop off her textbooks. Besides that, she said, it was up to professors to individually accommodate students.

Although 96% of the student body is fully vaccinated, 36 positive COVID-19 cases were recorded on Sept. 15. 

In their petition, CAS StuGov pointed to the large mask-optional events and social gatherings often sponsored by the University as increasing the risk of COVID-19 spread.

Ortiz Valverde added she is fully vaccinated. 

 “It was very shocking because apparently many of us have been asymptomatic,” Ortiz Valverde said. “You do feel that extreme disconnect between yourself and the learning environment.” 

Farooqi said based on the trend of COVID-19 cases rising as temperatures cool, it is reasonable that an increasing number of students could be out of classes in the coming weeks. 

“The solution of just getting notes from a friend isn’t sustainable in every class,” he said. “Particularly when we have all of this great technological infrastructure that we invested in last year, it just makes sense that we would continue to use it.” 

Farooqi added he sees why some professors could be hesitant to upload all their lecture recordings.

“A lot of classes are just not designed in a way that’s conducive to people just viewing it in a recorded way,” Farooqi said. “We all agree that an in-person lecture, where people are actually able to participate, is always the best way for material to be taught.”

Dhruv Kapadia, CAS StuGov’s Executive Vice President and a sophomore in CAS, said the Quarantine Learning Support Act is not meant to mandate recording for all instructors. 

“We’re looking to Administration to reform the policy and encourage professors to record for quarantining students,” Kapadia said. “For a lot of classes whose curriculum and syllabus hasn’t changed, they can also dip into the previous recordings that still exist.” 

Farooqi said there are solutions to students potentially taking advantage of having recorded classes available once again. 

“We don’t want attendance in classes to drop arbitrarily, so there are a number of technological solutions to this,” Farooqi said. “Zoom lectures are posted to Blackboard behind a password-protected service … if people are accessing it, they’re doing so with their own Blackboard account, a professor could see exactly who is accessing it.”

Kapadia said BU StuGov plans to continue the discussion with administrators.

“We understand that at the end of the day we can pass as many things as we want in the Senate and we can send out as many surveys and petitions,” he noted. “But at the end of the day, the power to change the policy lies with administration.”

The Dean of Students Office wrote in an email they declined to comment at this time. 

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