Professor shares “script” to respond to sick students amid quarantine

An educator’s kindhearted email reply to a student exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus has struck a chord on Twitter.

Melissa Wong, an adjunct lecturer at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign’s School of Information Sciences, took to Twitter on April 9 to share her response to the ailing young woman as a template, in hopes that other teachers and professors would use it.

“Student emailed me today that she has symptoms of COVID-19 (no testing available), apologizing profusely for late assignment,” wrote Wong, who has been teaching courses online since 2001. “Since this will start happening to many instructors, here’s a script for an appropriate reply.”

“I am so sorry you are sick,” she continued. “Please do not worry about missing the due date. IT IS FINE. I am not worried and there will not be a late penalty. We can chat about the course when you are healthy again.”

Beyond reassuring the student that a late assignment would be no issue, the lecturer took her reply a step further, asking the young woman if she had the means to get by on her own and, if not, how Wong, herself, could help.

“More importantly: 1. Do you live with an adult who can care for you (and any children)? 2. Do you have enough food & essential supplies? 3. Since your caregiver (if you have one), will be quarantined for at least 14 days, do you have a way to get more food?” Wong wrote.

“That’s it. That’s the reply you send to your student,” she added. “Be human first.”

Many Twitter users thanked Wong for her compassion and humanity at a time when students, along with the rest of the population, are struggling to cope with an uncertain future.

Some students and professors whose classes were disrupted by COVID-19 even chimed in with their own experiences on both the giving and receiving spectrum of patience amid the pandemic.

Others, however, could only wish they had a course instructor as kind as Wong.

“What a nice professor,” one woman wrote. “Mine simply said no late points and assumed I would be dropping out.”

If you loved this story, check out this teacher’s viral quarantine TikTok.

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