Grade schools and colleges across the country are drawing criticism for their different approaches to returning to class as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Some schools have already reported coronavirus cases from in-person classes, and photos of crowded students not practicing CDC-recommended social distancing measures have become a new norm.
A recent viral photo from one Texas State University student shows how difficult it can be to observe those social distancing measures. The photo captures an 8:00 a.m. class at the San Marcos, Texas campus taking place in the parking lot with distanced plastic chairs.
"We were outside because, with wind instruments, being inside is far, far more dangerous," Cade T., a music education student who posted the photo, told BuzzFeed News. "That class can only really happen outside because we don’t have the facilities to house all of us with social distancing guidelines."
Cade’s original post included the caption, "This is what my $25,000 tuition buys me at Texas State! Loving my 8am class." As of this post, the Tweet has nearly 125,000 likes and more than 16,000 retweets.
Cade clarified with BuzzFeed News that the post wasn't intended to cast blame on his teachers or his school’s music program. He instead wanted to criticize the lack of resources stemming from a failure of leadership at the highest levels.
"I want to clear the air by saying NONE of the blame should be placed on the TXST School of Music, they are truly doing the absolute best with what they were given. The real issues comes from the top and the people running the uni,” he wrote in a follow up tweet.
The university told BuzzFeed News that the class, led by Dr. John Denis, who is assistant professor of Music Education in the School of Music, was conducted outside in an attempt to prevent spread of COVID-19 and keep students safe.
"Being outside, combined with wearing special masks that allow them to play instruments, provides the safest learning environment possible for the students who are working to graduate and become music teachers,” the university said in a statement.
Texas State University is among many schools across the country offering a hybrid of online and in-person classes. Cade’s post clearly struck a chord, as many schools have been criticized for charging full price tuition despite having reduced access and online learning. According to KVUE, Texas State students who opted for online classes have been charged an additional $50 fee per credit hour.
"It obviously doesn’t feel good to be paying this much money to be sitting outside," Cade told BuzzFeed News. "My mindset is I’m just doing the best that I can and my teachers are doing the best they they can."