By Brittany Collier, EAW Student Marketing Assistant
Prepare for your classes to move online
Many colleges across the United States have quickly developed new plans to slow the spread of COVID-19 this fall. In June, the Chronicle of Higher Education tracked a list of universities’ plans for the fall semester. The largest category of colleges, at 63 percent, planned to return to in-person class for the fall semester. Seven percent of U.S. universities are planning online only instruction, while another 7% plan to do a hybrid (a mix of online and in-person classes), 9% were undecided as of June, and 11% hadn’t made final decisions as of the date of the article. August is almost over and classes have resumed or are about to begin in full swing, it may be time to prepare for the possibility for all classes to transition to online education.
High schools across the U.S. have been scrutinized for not properly enforcing social distancing and their careless rules on mask-wearing. Elwood High School in Indiana has already closed due to students testing positive for COVID-19, and a few high school’s in a district of Georgia have quarantined over 900 students due to potential exposure to the virus. That being said, it wouldn’t come as a shock if the same thing happened at universities. It’s important to get your mindset ready for your classes to move online in case it happens. It came as a huge shock to students and staff during the transition to online in March but with the cases still surging in locations across the U.S. don’t be surprised if online classes become the new norm this semester.
Get ready to mask up
With a growing emphasis on the importance of mask-wearing, universities will likely require masks for the fall semester. As of now, there’s not one all-encompassing rule regarding mask-wearing that universities are following. Some universities recommend mask-wearing, like Montana University, which means that they will encourage students to wear them, but has no rules in place to make students and faculty wear a mask . Others universities require it, like the University of Georgia. While others have no rules or recommendations in place like South Dakota’s public universities, but are encouraging students to wear masks through college run social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. (https://www.educationdive.com/news/more-colleges-states-mandate-masks-on-campus/581517/) According to a survey conducted by Business Wire, 62% of Americans, age 18 to 23 years-old, who are a part of Generation Z/Gen Z are always wearing a face mask in public settings. (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200804005331/en/Majority-Gen-Millennials-Wear-Face-Masks-Public) If that percentage goes up once fall semester hits, Gen Z will have a huge impact on slowing the spread. Some students may live with their families or folks who are immunocompromised. So, it’s important to Gen Z to be safe for their family's sake. This virus makes the college experience quite different for this age group, but having sympathy for others and keeping your morals in check will go a long way to save lives, so prepare to mask up this fall semester.
Say goodbye to fall break
With student travel being an issue regarding spreading COVID-19, many colleges have cancelled fall break. Fall break is usually a time for students to take vacations or visit family, and colleges have cancelled this break so that students are not returning to campus while possibly carrying the virus. That being said, some schools like Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska have decided to start school early and end when Thanksgiving break rolls around for the same reason. (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/05/20/several-colleges-plan-end-person-instruction-thanksgiving) The main idea is to limit travel to slow the spread, so expect to either go back to class early, for classes to end early, or to not have a fall break this semester.
COVID-19 is having a serious financial impact on universities. Many schools are having to resort to budget cuts, cancelling programs, and letting staff go. Plan for university-funded clubs to go under, sports programs to be cancelled, and academic programs to disappear. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/23/colleges-cut-programs-in-face-of-budget-shortfalls-due-to-covid-19.html)
With low enrollment rates, colleges have had revenue loss up in the hundreds of millions. Robert Franek, editor-in -chief of The Princeton Review, states that priorities will be shifted away from the value of a liberal arts education and focusing on degrees that pay.
“We are going to start to see those programs marketed that have a direct return on investment — that will prepare that student for a job,” said Robert Frank, Editor in Chief.
It won’t be an easy semester but with determination and will power, your passion and resilience will be unmatched.