In the Fall 2020 semester, the usual attendance policy at Southern was adjusted due to the pandemic that had swept the country that year. The usual attendance policy was that professors were able to count attendance towards a percentage of a students’ overall grade. Therefore, if a student did not attend, it would end up reflecting poorly on their grade. However, due to COVID-19, the university made the decision to not connect grades to attendance. But now in the Winter 2021 semester, Southern administration has decided to bring back the original attendance policy.
In the email sent on Dec. 15 to the student body concerning the policy, it stated that, “The amended policy was not intended to: Suggest that students did not need to attend class when they were well enough to do so, or discourage students from attending class or engaging in face-to-face learning while healthy. …Unfortunately, it appears that many students misunderstood the amended policy and were absent for reasons other than illness, which detrimentally affected learning environments and, in many cases, their grades.”
Although many students have vocalized their opinions against the reversal of the policy, Southern’s reasoning seems to be in the best interest of students who struggle to self-motivate themselves in their studies.
With attendance being required in some classes once again —like it had always been before this past semester — the policy encourages students to participate in their classrooms and stay on top of all of their schoolwork. Although many students were able to keep up with their course demands, many others were not, and they also did not feel motivated enough to do so with the attendance policy being the way that it was.
There has also been a concern for the rise of coronavirus cases in Hamilton county, and some argue that grading attendance for in-person classes may further increase the cases. However, Southern stated clearly in its email to the students that, “Your health is still our priority.” To prove this, the university implemented an option for virtual learning, so students may safely attend their classes online as well.
Overall, due to the reduced grades of many students last semester, the attendance policy was clarified after careful thought. Southern administration would not have reinstated this policy without thinking of the benefit and safety of the students. Both professors and students can begin this Winter 2021 semester safely, trusting that the best decision was made for the good of all.