School, college students face uncertainty as LSU denies requests to show on-line: ‘I used to be able to resign’ | Training
It was the first day of school, but Jack Yeager thought it might be the last of his four decades of careers.
The 75-year-old professor of French studies at LSU applied twice to teach remotely as he is particularly prone to COVID-19 due to his advanced age and heart disease. Despite being vaccinated, he couldn’t be sure about his students. According to LSU data, 61% of the 32,000 students received at least one dose of the vaccine – far from herd immunity.
He was rejected twice.
Yeager denied the initial decision and included a list of his medications on the appeal to seek housing under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But it still wasn’t enough. On August 20, three days before the fall semester, the school also rejected this application.
“I knew then that this would not be as easy as I had hoped,” he said.
Anyone who takes part in LSU’s home games this season must have a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of kick-off in order to enter the Tiger Stadium, the school announced on Tuesday morning.
So he rushed to his cardiologist, who wrote a detailed report on Yeager’s health. In the days waiting for an answer, Yeager said he was faced with a harsh reality.
“Teaching online is absolutely critical to me,” he said. “If I didn’t get permission to go away or go on vacation, I was ready to quit.”
LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard declined to say how many ADA applications were submitted or how many were rejected this semester. But he said the university approved 75 such petitions to teach online.
The uncertainty made plans difficult for faculty and students alike.
Milan Williams, who needs Yeager’s class for her minor, said if his course had been canceled, she would have had to rearrange plans for future semesters.
“I wish he didn’t have to fight to teach us,” she said.
The students in Melissa Flournoy’s two government courses were muddled when her ADA application was denied.
Flournoy, a former Louisiana state lawmaker, taught as an adjunct professor at LSU for a decade.
When the school turned down her application a week before the first day of class, she refused to teach in person for fear of her heart condition and the spread of COVID to elderly family members. So LSU canceled its two 50-student courses.
“My parents are 92 and 87 years old, my partner is 72 and I’m 60,” Flournoy said in a recent interview. “If we get COVID, we’ll be dead. I just can’t risk that.”
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She said she understood the desire to be back on campus, but she didn’t think it was constructive to force teachers into the classrooms. “The LSU is essentially issuing a campus-wide mandate to get back to normal life,” she said. “And I think that expectation overwhelmed common sense.”
Yeager agreed, highlighting the record-breaking nature of the recent coronavirus surge in Louisiana, which has led to mass testing and quarantines at LSU and overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes in and around the capital region.
“All faculties should have been able to teach online,” said Yeager. “I know the university wants some normality, but this fourth wave is anything but normal.”
LSU students have until October 15th to submit proof of vaccination or their de-registration form. University of New Orl …
Jesse Schnider, a senior in Yeager’s French class, said the university should do more to protect people with health problems and disabilities.
“Our institution cares more about the appearance of functioning than about its professors and students,” said Schnider. “I understand when you can host mass events on campus for freshmen, but first decline a professor’s request to teach in a safe environment – the priority is not safety.”
In the days when he waited for an answer, Yeager said his fear had grown by the hour. He said he was thinking of his students who need his course as a prerequisite. He also pondered his own legacy and how he never expected his tenure to end like this.
“I always thought it would be a sad end to such a long career,” he mused.
On the afternoon of the first day of class, the LSU gave him permission to go on sick leave. An hour later, the school agreed to let him teach remotely.
Although relieved, Yeager says he was hurt by the ordeal.
“I had to fight for recognition every step of the way,” he said. “The whole process was incredibly stressful and anxiety-relieving, which is the worst combination for a heart patient.”
Tens of thousands of students and lecturers returned to the LSU campus on Monday for the university’s first personal semester in 18 months.
And yet, he said, the fight was worth it. Last Tuesday, August 24th, Yeager said his Zoom class was full – a rarity for a first day.
Flournoy said she was looking forward to a day like this too.
After the FDA granted full approval to the COVID vaccine, the LSU said it would issue a mandate starting October 15. With vaccines now required, Flournoy said she would like to return to teaching for the spring semester.
“I want to be face to face with my students in a classroom,” she said. “And as soon as I can safely do all of this, I’ll do it.”