The coronavirus (COVID-19) has led the world into an unnecessary panic bolstered by a news and social media frenzy throwing myths around.
This is further supported by the unnecessary fear of liability to damages and civil lawsuits that has led organizations in our society to become unnecessarily overprotective, akin to cancelling public schools a day before a one inch snow prediction.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that COVID-19 has killed and infected six to thirteen times less than the flu has to date. However, our society is crumbling.
As a result of COVID-19, stadiums are without fans, conferences are being cancelled and schools are closing. The economy has also taken a nose-dive, and many are concerned about their future health and economic well-being.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), Gov. Tom Wolf and universities’ faculty have pressured many schools to switch to instructing courses online for the rest of the semester.
However, Shippensburg University chose a more reasonable approach by extending spring break by one week and not making a drastic decision so far in advance.
SU will be criticized no matter what it decides; it sits between one polar opposite of excessive caution (closing all in-person classes) and another of returning to school and ignoring the problem altogether. SU could lead the way on handling the coronavirus in a rational way that protects both academics and health.
What you should give a thought: The faculty should offer an online option for all students which would allow greater flexibility and safety, while preserving academic standards and a college experience students pay thousands of dollars.
Many schools have mandated all classes to go online for the rest of the semester. At SU, each faculty member should choose if he or she is comfortable teaching an in-person or online course.
If the faculty member chooses in-person, they must make it accessible to online learners as well. This gives students the option to choose to return to campus or take their classes remotely.
This would allow both faculty and students to take an online version if they are really concerned. It would also preserve labs, in-person demonstrations, athletics and activities that rely on in-class and on-campus experiences.
SU has told faculty to prepare for online instruction, so it would not be a great effort to offer both. Based on the facts about the coronavirus and the damage that a decision to moving completely online would cause, I urge members of the SU administration handling COVID-19 to consider this option.
Let us be leaders and show the ingenuity that SU is known for.