The Weber Arch and University Hall at Northwestern University. (Google Maps image)

The Associated Student Government at Northwestern University wants NU to require virtual classes as an option due to COVID-19.

In a resolution passed on Wednesday, ASG asks the university administration to “implement a requirement for professors to … provide alternatives to in-person class … for all undegraduate students who are unable to attend or feel unsafe attending in-person classes.”

The resolution also calls on NU to count absences as excused for students who test possitive for COVID or live with someone who has the virus and want to self-isolate.

Student senator Dalia Segal-Miller introduced the resolution. In an email to Evanston Now, Segal-Miller said she “felt a lot of uncertainty and nervousness from students” who were concerned about returning to in-person classes this week after two weeks of remote learning.

Some students were worried about becoming infected, others, she said, were unsure what would happen if they tested positive and had to miss a week of classes.

Segal-Miller said the resolution’s purpose was to provide a Zoom or other virtual opportunity for students who want remote learning, while keeping in-person classes for those who are comfortable with courses in person.

She said the professors in her classes have “approached this quarer with empathy and understanding,” but felt that flexibility should be the policy campus-wide.

Having both virtual and in-person classes, Segal-Miller said, would “ease a lot of stress and adequately support all students.”

However, it does not appear that Northwestern will adopt such a hybrid system.

A petition with similar requests was presented to the administration on January 14.

At that time, university provost Kathleen Hagerty responded that while she “understand(s) your concern about COVID-19 case numbers and classroom safety, there are no plans to require a virtual option.

“We are confident in our return to in-person classes and activities at this time,” Hagerty wrote to the petitioners, “given the declining case numbers, the extensive protocols we have in place, and the relative safety of our highly vaccinated campus environment.”

A Northwestern spokesperson said Hagerty’s response to the petition can also serve as NU’s position on the ASG resolution.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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