Combatting the spread of COVID-19 with virtual final exams


Before the semester began, the university announced that students will be taking finals remotely during the week of Nov. 30-Dec. 4. This has raised concerns for many.

Laura Latino, director of the Office of Testing, discussed their partnership with the Office of Accessibility Services for testing.

“I do not know what platform the university will be using for testing—I’m sure it will depend on the subject/department/teacher, etc,” said Latino. “Our office would generally proctor the finals for the students who are registered through Student Accessibility Services, but because students will not be returning after the Thanksgiving break, I’m not sure what to expect this fall during finals week.”

There are still many questions about how the Office of Testing will be able to contribute during finals week.

“Our office plans on being open during the week of finals, but because finals are going to be online, I do not know how much we will be able to assist students unless the students come to campus,” shared Latino. “We will definitely be happy to assist with questions and remain a point of contact for the students and their professors.”

Lauren Birch, a junior general studies major, shared how she felt about taking exams virtually.

“I do like how finals are online,” said Birch. “I feel like it is much easier to take tests at home, and it is also safer than everyone being on campus all at once.”

James O’Connor, department head of communication and media studies, explained how the department is preparing for finals week.

“Because of the schedule of COVID-19, we are going to have finals after Thanksgiving, but students won’t be able to come back,” explained O’Connor. “We have to have them do their exams remotely, which we are in the middle of planning. What we will do is set designated start and finish times for students to take exams, depending on the course.”

O’Connor believes that this semester will not differ much from previous remote test-taking situations.

“Being able to do final exams remotely is not a big leap since we are already in the transition of doing midterms online,” said O’Connor. “There will be monitoring for plagiarism and that kind of thing. We have to also make sure that the system works, and we are working very closely with technology services.”

There is no set program that instructors are required to use for each exam. For some classes, students could be required to pay for their proctor.

“How the instructor decides to conduct their exam is completely up to them,” explained O’Connor. “It’s going to be mostly through Moodle, and there are capabilities to do it through Lockdown Browser. The thing about COVID-19 is that circumstances are not ideal, and it’s not really what students want, so we’re trying our best to be accommodating for all.”

O’Connor urges students to make arrangements that will ensure a smooth testing process.

“If a student has a bad connection, they need to find a place that will provide a good one,” said O’Connor. “We’ve had a number of people who have had a disconnect or get kicked off and we work with them, but it is a little more problematic, so we do encourage them to possibly go to a library, or somewhere that has a stronger connection if not at home.”