Prakriti Adhkari/The Lion's Roar
Although masks will be required upon resuming to face-to-face classes, the Fall 2020 semester could still be a struggle for students who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
People with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, according to the CDC. To accommodate students at higher risk, Disability Services has planned to extend their resources.
Kimberly Readlinger, interim director of Disability Services, explained how students at higher risk can request accommodations.
“Those who may be immunocompromised or ones who have underlying health conditions, they would come to us and request accommodations or assistance,” explained Readlinger. “Basically, what they would do is bring documentation from their doctors to let us know they are in the high-risk group. We will work with them as best as we can.”
Although accommodation planning is still underway, Readlinger explained that hybrid learning is a possibility.
“There is a hybrid situation in terms of courses where they can do online as well as on-campus learning,” shared Readlinger. “We will work one-on-one with the student and see what is needed.”
Katherine Cousins, a sophomore music major with asthma, explained the main accommodation she will need is the courtesy of others.
“Honestly, my biggest issue is the respect factor that people do and don’t have,” shared Cousins. “That’s my major concern because if I’m going to wear a mask to protect you, I feel like you should have the mutual respect to wear it to protect me, especially if I’m the one with the underlying condition.”
With proper accommodations, Cousins shared that face-to-face classes are her preference.
“Personally, I prefer doing it all in class because I do not function well in online situations,” said Cousins. “I find I much rather stick to the in-person because at least that way, I can get the education I’m paying for.”
Dr. Gabe Willis, dean of students, addressed the progress of accommodations in a mass email sent on June 28.
“Our plans are still to hold face-to-face classes and other campus activities in the fall semester, with appropriate changes to help ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff,” said Willis. “Know that your administration, faculty and staff have been working daily to determine the exact accommodations needed.”
Readlinger assured the university will work to meet the needs of all students.
“Southeastern’s mission is to meet the students where they are and to support them in all areas of education—not just academics but also the development of the student as a whole,” explained Readlinger. “We do care and will work towards a plan that works best for them.”