E-learning, single hotel rooms in the form of dormitories and step-by-step planning are just some of the ideas moving towards the autumn semester of 2020.
Call it the coronavirus déjà vu. When planning ways to open campuses this fall, colleges are increasingly changing their minds, sharply increasing online offers or canceling personal classes directly.
This sudden shift will be familiar to students whose spring plans have been interrupted by the rapid spread of the coronavirus. COVID-19 cases are now much higher in most parts of the country than in the spring and are on the rise in many places.
In many cases, colleges published plans for socially remote personal classes just a few weeks ago, hoping to defeat the coronavirus.
“Instead,” said Robert Kelhen, a professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, “the virus has defeated us.”
Just like in the spring, students are left to sort themselves out to adjust their work schedule and living conditions, facing expensive tuition for online classes and renting an apartment that they may not need. Digital classes are still unattractive to many, and the chances of personal learning over the next semester remain unclear.
Just this week, the University of Miami in Ohio announced that all undergraduate courses will take place on at least Sept. 21. The University of West Virginia has announced that its classes will begin on August 21, about a week later than originally planned, and that most higher-level courses will be taught online or through a hybrid of in-person and online courses. George Washington University in Washington, DC, has said it is rejecting plans for the fall semester and will conduct undergraduate and most online graduates by joining colleges such as the University of California and Harvard that have already made that decision.
“We know exactly how much you’ve been looking forward to your stay on campus this fall, and we understand that the news is disappointing,” George Washington said in a statement.
Schools also go online: Despite the CDC’s recommendations, most major areas go online because of the high rate of COVID-19 cases.
It would be good to know this news before Ariana Miskin, a graduate student at the university who is studying for a master’s degree in health care, signs a lease in Washington. She lived in nearby Arlington, Virginia, and wanted to move to be closer to her school and town.
For now, according to her, she will stay in the city, trying to finish her term paper.
Miskin said the university was well informed about its reactions to the pandemic, which she called a “once-in-a-lifetime event.” But she wants the administration to act earlier in the summer.
“Until June, we were not asked if they preferred the Internet or a hybrid town,” she said, conducting some online classes and some personal ones. “The semester starts in a month. They moved too late. ”
Most universities are likely to follow suit if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
Chronicle of high school follows the plans of approximately 1,260 colleges throughout the summer. At the beginning of this year, almost two-thirds of institutions planned for personal instruction. As of Tuesday, about 49% said they were on this path. About a third planned a semester that would include a combination of online classes and face-to-face classes, while 13% planned online training.
Some colleges, such as the University of California, Berkeley, have postponed a formal decision, saying they will begin the semester remotely, with some personal instruction later in the semester.
The bowl is waiting more schools will announce changes in the fall semester over the next week. Colleges waited to cancel personal classes, hoping that the health of the population would improve. A huge motivator: colleges need students on campus to bring money for tuition and boarding, and to help students at risk of maintaining a degree. In addition, many are concerned about the reaction of students, lawmakers, or the public as pressure comes from the White House to some state governments to reopen educational institutions.
The Trump administration: The guide offers new international students from the United States if they take online classes
Kelchen noted that administrators now have a week until the fall semester, and there is little hope that something significant will change.
One of the upcoming alternatives: colleges could reopen their campuses and attract students from across the country, and then a few weeks later due to the outbreak students have to be sent home.
Finally, Kelhen said: “Major League Baseball spends incredible money on testing and safety of players in their state,” he said. “Their season is on the verge of three games.”
Even if campuses reopen, “anything is possible”
When deciding on reopening, colleges should consider more than just the local COVID-19 indicator. Many of their students come from all over the country. Therefore, although the city or college staff may see an equal or decreasing case rate, administrators need to weigh the growing number of cases in the country as a whole.
Some institutions, such as Ithaca College, prohibit students living in New York’s mandatory quarantine list from attending classes in person during the fall semester. Others say that some students require two weeks in quarantine before classes begin.
This raises the question of who should be quarantined, said Harry Taylor, co-chair of the COVID-19 task force of the American Health Association. Should institutions require quarantine only for out-of-school students? Should this rule also apply to international students?
Returning students to campus also raises questions about coronavirus testing – and few universities have a comprehensive or affordable solution.
Plus address testing is limited in time. A person can test for negatives, but they can be positive in three days, Taylor said. “Who wants to be tested every couple of days or even once a week?” said Taylor. “I think it’s going to be hard to sell to college students.”
Yet the most definite aspect of the fall will be the constant presence of uncertainty. Reopening colleges should plan if and when to transfer courses online, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in the community and the number on campus, among students, and faculty and instructors.
“Anything is possible,” Taylor said. “I think families should also have contingency plans.”
Personal lessons – during a pandemic?
Dickinson College, a private college of the humanities in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was one of the earlier universities to announce plans to abandon the personal fall semester in favor of digital. This was after students were told in June that officials hoped to offer face-to-face classes.
At about this time, according to the college’s president, Marge Ensignan, the window for testing the results in the region was about two days. But as the summer deepened, expectations of test results grew longer, she said, and college staff could not find anyone who could offer results faster. She said the development of state contact tracking states was insufficient and the federal leadership had little.
By July 15, the college had decided to move to distance learning for students.
Of course, the students were disappointed, Ensign notes, and the move could lead to financial problems or recruitment problems. But, she added, people have formulated the decision as if it were online courses against traditional personal activities.
“Indeed, it is remote compared to a personal pandemic,” Yensin said. “We’ve come to the conclusion that completely remote, we could make it a better experience, actually, because teachers now have extra time to prepare for that.”
Dickinson apparently does not charge a room and boarding house for non-campus students, and he refuses to increase tuition and student fees by 4%. Other colleges, such as George Washington, offer a discount on tuition. (GWU is 10% for off-campus students.)
College students are disappointed
This may not be enough for some students who feel that their studies are focused on personal training plus the social experience of the college.
But colleges say it’s actually cheaper to provide digital instruction if teachers’ salaries remain the same. In addition, they lose income from planning housing and dining.
Bottom line: College students are frustrated, no matter what option their university currently has.
Some students at institutions such as the University of Pittsburgh are pushing their universities to translate their studies online. And students at Kansas State University are disappointed that their college changed the personal course to online learning and then charged a special fee for digital courses.
Others, like Hannah Landry, a graduate of the University of Texas A&M, are shrinking where they need to live. Most of her classes are offered online. To help make a decision, she conducted a survey on Twitter.
She thought her peers would mostly tell her to return to campus. Instead, she found that some encouraged her to stay with her family in west Texas, where COVID-19 levels were low, because she could save money and avoid the effects of the coronavirus.
According to her, the college still offers some personal courses, but she is worried that she will return to the college station in the fall, when thousands of her peers may do the same.
She said she also wants to see her family several times during the semester, but some are older and at high risk for coronavirus. And when it comes down to it, she’s just not sure who she can trust.
“I just don’t think we kids are disciplined enough not to go out in public and be with people,” she said. “I just think the numbers are rising.”
Education coverage in the United States today is made possible in part by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation does not provide an editorial.
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