Cold weather and school closings have left some Youngstown State University students faced with a problem. With the university rarely closing, these students must choose to either bring their children to class with them or accommodate an absence.
There is not an official written policy that department chairs and instructors must follow regarding young children in the classroom, said Teresa Riley, associate provost for academic administration, and Jack Fahey, vice president for student affairs.
“It is on a case-by-case basis,” Riley said. “It really depends on the faculty and the children’s age. We also have to find a way to balance everybody’s rights — the rights of the teachers, the students [with children] and the other students in the class.”
Julia Gergits, chair of the English department, said many instructors are open to allowing children in the classroom as long as the kids are not being disruptive.
“Usually, it’s never been a big problem,” she said. “Sometimes it is fun to have the kids; it’s like little future YSU students.”
Gergits said English curriculum often includes inappropriate or adult language, and that the faculty doesn’t base their coursework on the chance that children will be present.
“As long as it doesn’t change what I teach,” Gergits said. “We don’t want to have to edit what we teach.”
Shearle Furnish, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, said the decision rests in the hands of the instructor teaching the class.
“It has been deemed that there is material of too much adulthood and sensitivity for a child to have regular attendance,” Furnish said in reference to one particular incident.
Another option that students have is to utilize the on-campus day care. However, with unexpected school closings last week, the day care experienced an atypical rush.
The day care usually expects 24-hour notice, but Katie Handel, administrator of the Wee Care Day Care Center, said she understands that schools close at the last minute.
“On average, we had about 30 school-agers [on Wednesday],” she said. “Normally, there is maybe six school-agers after school from maybe 3 to 6 p.m.”
Handel said the cost of day care depends on the child’s age, days and hours attended, and whether the parent is a YSU student. Wee Care Day Care is located in Fedor Hall, and it is open from 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.