Evaluating the fairness of COVID-19 violations

Editorial

COVID-19 is certainly at the forefront of everyone’s lives. We are so grateful to be at school during these difficult times, and we are fortunate to have faculty and staff that truly care about our safety and well-being. However, there have been some concerns among students about the way in which COVID-19 violations are currently being handled. 

One issue is that students learn that they committed a violation sometimes one to two weeks after it was reported by a faculty member. Violations serve as negative reinforcement to stop unwanted behaviors, which is very important at this time. However, negative reinforcement doesn’t work well when it’s delayed. Students shouldn’t be surprised when they receive a violation; rather, when they do something that deserves a violation, a teacher should approach the student directly, inform them of what they are doing wrong, and explain to them how they can do better. As a result, that student will be able to learn from their mistake. By keeping students in the know regarding whether or not they have received a violation, our campus will be both smarter and safer. 

Another concern is that faculty and staff are focused on negative reinforcement, to the exclusion of positive reinforcement. This is a really hard time for all of us, and we are certainly trying our best. We fully understand that teachers are stressed, and, for the most part, students aren’t breaking the rules on purpose; it’s just that habits are hard to break. It’s certainly not natural to stand six feet apart from your best friend and talk with a mask on. We are all still getting used to this new normal. Students do really try to stay safe, just like the faculty and staff. Therefore, when students do consistently abide by COVID-19 guidelines and strive to maintain a healthy environment on campus, those individuals should be recognized. During this time, there is not much to look forward to; there are no school dances, sports competitions, or fun times with friends. Thus, by bringing more positivity to campus and looking on the bright side rather than pointing out every time someone does something wrong, students will definitely enjoy the time they spend at school much more despite the restrictions.

Lastly, some students feel that they are targeted unfairly, that teachers have favorites and pick on some students more than others when it comes to violations. At this time, it is crucial to hold every student accountable for their actions if they pose a threat to the health and safety of others, but also to make sure violations are being handed out in an impartial manner. Violations for breaking COVID-19 rules should be given based on only if a student breaches the school’s guidelines and nothing else. If everyone is not held accountable equally, the actions of those who don’t receive violations but continue to break the rules could lead to a transition to online learning. We as students also need to continue to hold one another to the same standards of accountability. Even if it’s your closest friend who is violating COVID-19 guidelines, it is necessary to point out their actions and educate them in a constructive and supportive way.

By making sure that all students are aware of their violations in a timely manner, bringing more positivity to campus by rewarding students who abide by COVID-19 guidelines, and holding everyone accountable on campus equally, in-person learning will continue to be possible and students on campus will certainly be happier during this difficult time.