Professors on Zoom

In the midst of the pandemic, college and K-12 students have been forced to adapt to not only the rapid change of their communities, workplace environments and family lives, but also that of the education system in the United States. 

Attempting to offer the most normal classroom setting possible without putting students and their families at risk for COVID-19, several K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities have implemented the use of Zoom, an online video -chat service, in place of in-person teaching lectures. 

Now that Zoom has become a major resource for educators to combat the challenges of COVID-19, some teachers and professors have begun to abuse their authority by prohibiting students from eating or drinking and requiring them to wear certain attire during virtual class sessions. 

While many students have easily adjusted to this new form of education, others have experienced more hindrances to online learning due to living situations, jobs and financial difficulties. 

In order to maintain productive lectures over Zoom, professors and teachers have enforced their own behavioral standards, and understandably so. However, multiple educators and their “Zoom etiquette” rules have gotten out of hand; some have prohibited their students from eating any snacks or wearing pajamas during class. Rules such as these have sparked an outrage not only in students but parents as well. 

Prior to most K-12 schools and colleges shifting to online learning, eating snacks during class was commonly banned for obvious reasons. Eating during an in-person class has the potential to be disruptive, with issues such as loud crunching or chewing, strong smells and frequent messes to be cleaned up. 

The lack of in-person communal learning and the easily-accessible mute button, eating during an online class does not interfere in any way with the educator’s teaching. 

Similarly, it is unlikely that students who choose to wear appropriate pajamas to their Zoom classes in the comfort of their own homes could affect their learning environment. With much controversy around the work-from-home dress code, some adults have argued that wearing comfortable clothing and pajamas have not hindered their ability to succeed in their daily tasks, with some simultaneously claiming the same concept applies to students. 

In these recent months, students of all ages have struggled to stay afloat mentally, physically and/or financially in the COVID lifestyle, especially those in lower-income communities, according to Edutopia, a publication that focuses on innovations in education. Some students are juggling multiple jobs while still fitting in time for virtual classes. Some are sharing devices or Wi-Fi hotspots with parents, siblings or both in order for everyone to complete necessary tasks on a daily basis. Some are even coping with the illness or death of a loved one from COVID-19. 

Even without these major obstacles, it can be incredibly difficult for all students, whether they are in kindergarten or graduate school, to continue giving their maximum effort in studies when it often feels like the world is falling apart all around them. 

It is likely that several students this year will have great difficulty managing virtual learning amid all other major changes to their lives, and many could suffer sharp declines in their learning or they may forego their education completely. 

Rather than implementing silly rules to assert their authority, professors and K-12 teachers would make a much better use of their time by offering support and ensuring they are providing the best education and resources possible for their students. Despite these harsh circumstances, they should encourage students to persevere and continue pursuing their education. 

The entire world is aching over the pandemic’s toll. With today’s children, adolescents and young adults as the future of this country, it is crucial for instructors to provide as much compassion and understanding to their students’ academic journeys as possible.

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