With the exam period around the corner, the ISO is worried that students with coronavirus symptoms will not stay at home. They are not encouraged to follow the coronavirus rules, the ISO asserts. They are receiving 'contradictory signals'.
'It’s important that you won’t have fewer chances than the other students if you go into quarantine', ISO chairperson Lisanne de Roos explains. That’s why she wants students to be able to cancel and reschedule their exams if they have to stay home because they have a cold or have tested positive for Covid. 'We have to avoid a situation where students who have a runny nose are coming to campus', she says.
But isn’t it also a handy excuse if you want to avoid taking an exam? 'I wouldn’t rule out the fact that students could abuse the situation, but we think it’s more important that students stay away from campus if they have symptoms. That’s just a risk we’re willing to take', De Roos maintains.
Some institutions have already announced they will be offering an extra resit to students who have to quarantine. In De Roos’s opinion, that proves that it’s entirely possible to take the pandemic into consideration during the exam period without putting some students at a disadvantage.
Students at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Maastricht University have signed a petition calling for the option to take their examinations online. But the ISO doesn’t think this is a good idea. That method often goes hand in hand with proctoring – monitoring online tests – and the ISO calls that 'a major violation of students’ privacy'.
Moreover, the fear of increased coronavirus infections in higher education is not just something that affects exams. Many institutions require attendance in class, which means that students with symptoms also come to lectures and tutorials to avoid running into programme delays. Last week, the Dutch Student Union set up a hotline for students who feel they are being forced to physically attend classes during the pandemic.