The unprecedented rise in COVID-19 positivity surrounding campus has created uncertainty for students and professors alike and may lead more professors to move their classes online for the time being.

ENGL 412 professor Maren Linett already switched her class to online learning, emailing her students Friday to notify them of the change.

“With cases in our county higher than they've ever been and hospitalizations and deaths up, I've decided to move our class to Zoom for 1 or possibly 2 weeks,” she said in the email.

Some students complained of having to sit in crowded classrooms with little to no social distancing.

Students in POL 327 were forced to sit on the Wilmeth Active Learning Center classroom floor due to lack of space, some students told The Exponent. The class, taught by political science professor Charles Taber, has 126 students and the classroom normally seats 84, according to the class list and WALC website respectively.

Taber’s syllabus includes mandatory attendance, and those who miss class miss what's taught.

“Please note that powerpoints and other in-class materials will not be shared by the instructor or (teaching assistants),” it reads.

Taber didn’t respond to an email for comment.

Purdue’s COVID-19 positivity rate since Jan. 1 is 18.02%, according to Protect Purdue’s dashboard as of Friday. Last semester, it was only 1.71%. Though on a steady decline since Sunday, Purdue’s positivity remains significantly higher than any time before this semester.

Tippecanoe County’s case counts skyrocketed, as well. The seven-day positivity rate sits at 36.9%, and the cumulative rate is 26.3%, according to the Indiana State Health Department COVID-19 dashboard. The last week has shown the highest number of reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic, according to reporting by the New York Times.

Cases have increased by 204% over the last 14 days, data from the CDC shows. More than 150 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Thursday, and one person has died in the past 7 days.

Officials from the county health department didn’t respond to multiple calls for comment Friday.

Despite this, the university intends to maintain current Protect Purdue guidelines, Purdue Spokesperson Tim Doty said Friday. Protect Purdue Health Center only allows symptomatic students to get tested, according to an email sent to students Monday.

Biochemistry professor Angeline Lyon said she intended to teach in-person, but will emphasize flexibility in her courses.

“It's obviously a lot more fun to lecture and to be able to gauge understanding in person,” she said, “but not everybody feels confident, and not everybody has the luxury of deciding to be here in person.

“So as long as everyone's masking up and following the guidelines, I feel OK teaching. And then for students who can't make it or anything like that, having the flexibility to move things online if we need to, recording lectures and things like that.”

Sociology professor Joy Tong said she’s concerned about the ability to social distance in her 150-person class.

“I'm thinking that as long as we wear masks, (it’s OK),” she said. “Obviously, there is no way we can keep the social distance. But I'm willing to (be in-person) only because I'm concerned about my students.

“I think that we need a bigger classroom so that we can have good social distancing.”

Additional reporting contributed by Sasha Patil and Sean Murley, campus editor and staff reporter.

Recommended for you