I am not a professor, but I work at a Community College. I work with students directly (basically a tutor) and someone asked me a question that I didn't know how to respond: Is it appropriate for professors to use COVID as a topic in their online discussion boards?
Obviously, the whole COVID situation can provide professors an ample supply of material directly related to the content of the course. If you study math, then you can look at different data and statistics about it. If you study economics, then you can look at the economic impact and response. If you study sociology, you can look at it through a sociological lens. Basically, every subject has the potential to use COVID in their class. At my community college, all of the online professors require weekly discussion board posts, as a way to keep the students talking and engaged with each other. It appears that most professors are making their discussion board posts COVID related. But issues can arise when a student has high anxiety or stress about their quarantine. Basically, the student I was working with said something along the lines of "I have been in quarantine for 5 months already, COVID is all over the news and social media, I read about it and listen to it 24/7. I'm tired of it. I don't want it waved in my face from all of my professors trying to get me to discuss it even more. I'm having a tough time as it is, why are they making me re-live it?"
Should professors use COVID as a real world example of their material? Or should they be more sensitive to possible student issues of quarantine?
I wasn't sure what to tag...I tagged health-issues more for mental health issues. I couldn't find a tag for discussion boards or online forums for classes.
EDIT: I am based in the U.S. if that helps shape any thoughts/answers. And now after reading the accepted answer, it makes me worry about this particular student I have. She had to write a discussion board post and the professor said "write about 3 examples of xyz as it relates to the COVID pandemic. Keep this dscussion post in mind later this week when I give you your first paper assignment." So now I am afraid she will have to write about something COVID related for a 5 page paper. Would it be acceptable for her to ask for a different assignment, since she has high anxiety about anything COVID related? (she is very high risk since she is older and has had previous lung surgery. She literally has not left her house since March, so I know the topic compounds her mental health difficulties).