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The pandemic’s hold on the past four semesters has called for reinventing approaches to teaching, managing, and learning. It has also fueled hardship and anxiety. The masks we still don in lecture halls are reminders that, even with some restrictions relaxed, Covid continues to rearrange campus. Students have largely been the center of conversations on how Covid-19 has impacted Harvard, but the no-less-important plight of professors, administrators, janitors, proctors, tutors, and many other administrative roles has largely flown under the radar.
When opining on the pandemic from a student perspective, our board has scattered thanks to Harvard’s faculty and staff across many pieces. But to do so in one-off paragraphs, tacked onto staff editorials largely concerned with the particulars of one aspect of the University’s pandemic response or another, has begun to feel insufficient. It's time for our gratitude for Harvard’s workers to become more overt. So, here we go:
To the faculty, staff, and workers of Harvard University: We, some dozens of students of Harvard College, deeply appreciate you.
Pandemic-era education has not only depleted student energy, but that of university personnel, too. A new data visualization project collects information on how university faculty across the U.S. feel about the state of affairs on their campus. Largely, it reveals that many are anxious and exhausted, but in some instances, still hopeful.
To our own university’s faculty members: We know that it was no easy feat to promptly adapt lesson plans, guest lectures, in-person activities, and programming to fit inside a Zoom screen once Covid hit. Even so, you worked tirelessly to do just that. And now, the return to in-person instruction — while more than welcomed — also leaves you readjusting your curricula to incorporate the best elements of Zoom and in-person learning. We’ve seen teachers offer Zoom and in-person office hours, noting student praise for the former’s convenience, and Zoom and in-person sections to remain as flexible as possible.
Teaching, administrating, and organizing have always been stressful, but current circumstances have made it more complex. Now, every teacher has essentially been tasked with arbitrating the finer public health guidelines of their classroom, peppered with decisions like: Should I hold class outside today? How can I work with students who contract Covid, or help them recoup participation points if quarantined? Juggling this new crop of questions has been an added responsibility for all faculty this semester. We recognize this effort, and value all teaching staff have done to guide and engage us during these disorienting times.
Despite faculty excitement for returning to in-person classes, we know the stakes of doing so are higher for our professors. We, students, live in a bubble of Harvard-provided tri-weekly testing, protocols for quarantine and isolation, and mostly only have other Harvard students as contacts. We are generally vaccinated young adults with less to fear from the virus.
Meanwhile, many of the faculty and staff in our community have young children not yet eligible for vaccination; though uncommon, Covid could still wreak havoc on their small bodies. To all Harvard workers: We know many of you have families to whom you go home at the end of each day — families who worry about you and whom you worry about in turn. We understand your heightened fears and anxieties regarding the return to in-person college, and we promise that we will continue to do our part to keep campus safe ourselves.
Faculty members are putting forth remarkable effort to honor and protect the in-person experience through their firm adherence to Harvard’s Covid-19 policies in the classroom. On that note, we have a small request for our fellow students. Our actions are what will convey how much we actually appreciate the tremendous effort of our faculty, and respect their children and families at home. Together, let’s step up and show that we care for them by making responsible, moral choices. Enforce your own testing schedule — even when the only consequence of skipping is a text reminder. Mask up in all indoor spaces, as Harvard requires, and especially when around faculty and children who are vulnerable to Covid-19. Don’t be reckless.
Our actions directly influence the health of our community and the faculty we interact with. Responsible behavior is a key way we can show respect for Harvard’s workers, but we know words matter too. We should be liberal in expressing our appreciation for Harvard’s incredible faculty and staff, who have kept this ship afloat through a generation-defining crisis.
The Crimson Editorial Board
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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