Westfield State University changes COVID-19 attendance policy

Westfield State University students, faculty, and staff received an unexpected email this week regarding class attendance.
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 6:21 PM EDT
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WESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Westfield State University students, faculty, and staff received an unexpected email this week regarding class attendance.

The email was sent to our newsroom by a viewer and reads in part:

“As the pandemic has passed, the dean of students office and health services will no longer be providing permissions to students for class absences.”

The email states the reason for the decision is due to numerous legal, medical, and educational issues associated with the practice.

Kristen’s daughter forwarded the email to her. Her daughter wasn’t infected with COVID, but couldn’t attend classes since she was ill:

“She was visibly and audibly sick, and they said they wouldn’t write her a note or anything like that so she reached out to the professor and the professor told her to go to health services, so she was like well what am I supposed to do here?” said Kristen.

She tells Western Mass News, that she doesn’t want to see anything spread.

“I don’t understand if somebody has COVID-19 are they not getting excused from class, why how is that working? If somebody tests for COVID at the health services I would think they would write a note and excuse them from class I can understand they don’t want to take people’s word for it but that’s just ridiculous,” said Kristen.

Baystate Medical Center’s Dr. Paez says COVID-19 is still active in the community, and people should isolate and follow CDC guidelines when infected.

“Since the Fourth of July, the number of cases of patients testing positive being symptomatic or asymptomatic steadily rose and currently, we are at the level of around 68 patients with passive COVID who are hospitalized. I’d like to mention not all of those 68 patients have COVID symptoms approximately 20-30 percent have symptoms treated for a moderate more severe disease due to COVID-19, " said Dr. Paez.

We checked in with colleges in the area, to learn more about their covid absence policies.

We’re told at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, that if a student is isolating due to COVID-19 infection, it’s an excused absence covered by their medically excused absence policy.

At Springfield College, students are not to attend class and should reach out to their professors to navigate their academics while in isolation.

She says she wishes the email her daughter received offered more clarity.

“It was pretty vague. It talks about there were medical and legal and academic reasons which I can only imagine if they had listed some of those and been more transparent, maybe I would feel differently but they laid it out there leaving it open to interpretation,” said Kristen.

We received mixed reactions from students off-camera, some were confused, and others did not check their email until Wednesday. Western Mass News contacted campus officials for more information on Wednesday.

On Friday, Westfield State University reached back out to Western Mass News to clarify their policy providing us with the following statement: