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September 22, 2021

U. student in quarantine worries she’ll fall behind without Zoom options

Merri Compton, a University of Utah student who is sick with COVID-19, said she’s concerned the school isn’t doing enough to prevent quarantined students from getting behind in their coursework. (Jeffrey Dahdah, KSL-TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — A University of Utah student who is sick with COVID-19 said she’s concerned the school isn’t doing enough to prevent quarantined students from getting behind in their coursework.

Last week, Merri Compton of Sandy tested positive for COVID-19.

When she contacted her professors in the MBA program, several said they did not offer a Zoom option for lectures.

It’s something she believes is a problem. “That’s a huge incentive for students to go to school sick,” said Compton.

With no mask policy in place because of Utah law, she worries the virus will continue spreading.

“They spent thousands of dollars last year, conforming their classrooms to be Zoom-compatible, and so I’m just like — the technology is there, sitting there. Why can’t we just turn it on?” said Compton.

University guidelines state: “Faculty must accommodate the instructional needs of students who are quarantined or self-isolated due to COVID-19.”

The guidelines go on to say, “In many if not most cases, a faculty member’s regular, pre-COVID-19 approach to accommodating students who miss class or assignments because of an illness will be sufficient.”

University of Utah spokesman Chris Nelson said it’s up to faculty to decide.

“Does that mean it absolutely has to be that a faculty member records a lecture or a real-time Zoom? No, there’s other ways they can get around that,” he said.

The School of Business declined to comment. But Nelson said some professors don’t want to have to prepare two different syllabi or course curriculums: one for in-person and one for online.

Compton said that’s not fair.

“This is a pandemic — it’s happening to everyone everywhere,” said Compton. “So, I think that the University should have a policy in place for all professors to follow.”

Since KSL began investigating, Compton’s professors have agreed to provide Zoom links, and Nelson said the university is open to reevaluating protocol.

“We’re a week into school now. These guidelines were written a couple of weeks ago, so what I can tell you is, of course, these guidelines are being reviewed in real-time,” he said.

Last week, the U. joined several other Utah universities in requiring students receive the COVID-19 vaccine soon.

There are a total of 5,659 classes at the university this fall. Of those, 65% are all in-person, and 21% are a hybrid of in-person and interactive video. Online-only makes up 14% of classes, according to Nelson.

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