Many countries worldwide are suggesting various levels of containment in order to combat the spread of coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19. Colleges and universities are closing down and moving abruptly to online platforms and remote education.
Let’s take a look at what measures colleges are taking against coronavirus, how this is affecting their faculty and students, and how colleges are coping with all the changes that COVID-19 is causing to the education system.
Measures That Colleges Are Taking Against Coronavirus
Colleges nationwide are taking various precautionary measures in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among their students, staff, and communities.
These are the basic guidelines that are being implemented in many colleges:
1. Closing the campuses
Colleges are closing their campuses in order to minimize the risk of transmission, along with many businesses and workplaces across the country. This measure was initially thought of as a temporary delay in the spring semester, but most colleges have closed campuses for the indeterminable future.
2. Remote learning
The most notable measure is the cancellation of frontal lectures and classes. Since colleges do not yet know how long campuses will need to be closed, remote learning is taking the place of in-person instruction, and all curriculum is being moved onto online platforms for the time being. Colleges are taking this measure to ensure that students can continue learning and earning their degrees, even while campus buildings are closed.
3. Student activities cancelled
Besides the campuses closing, colleges are announcing the cancellation of student activities and groups as part of the same precautionary measures, and to encourage social distancing.
4. Students encouraged to vacate dorms
Many students are being asked or encouraged to leave their dorms and move off campus. Some colleges are closing their dorms completely, and asking that specific students petition to stay if they have nowhere else to go, or find it necessary to be on campus for continued research projects.
5. Daily updates
Colleges are using their websites and newsletters to keep students informed about the coronavirus situation as it develops in each state, as well as the measures that the college is taking to prevent the spread, according to CDC recommendations for institutions of higher learning. Daily updates also include words of encouragement and support for students who are adjusting to the new remote learning schedule.
6. Following CDC guidelines
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has included all the above measures as part of their recommendations for institutions of higher learning. Though the CDC guidelines are being updated daily, the measures that colleges are taking are all part of the CDC’s recommendation for preparation and prevention of COVID-19.
How This Affects Students And Staff
1. Delays to navigate new technology
Semesters and classes are being delayed further while teachers and staff learn to navigate online education. Teachers are being asked to transfer their regular curriculums to online platforms — and depending on the subject and structure of the lessons, some teachers are needing to adjust their material altogether in order to fit the new platform.
2. Students uprooted
In light of dorms and campuses closing, some students are being physically uprooted from their routines and living arrangements. This is on top of adjusting to a new studying and class paradigm, leaving a lot of students feeling overwhelmed or uprooted from their normal schedules and lives.
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3. Tuition costs
Some students are finding it difficult to study online, and are complaining that the tuition they are paying for in-person education is too high for the new online education that they are receiving while studying at home.
Though some colleges are willing to refund housing and dining costs that are no longer relevant, most are unwilling to refund tuition on the basis of the changed education approach.
In addition, many students who were working through college find themselves on unpaid leave. Many students are hoping to receive permission to defer payments for tuition loans in order to get back on their feet.
What Colleges Are Doing To Cope
1. Preparing resources and instructions
Colleges are creating and disseminating additional instruction and supplementary training for both teachers and students to get used to the new technology needed for classes and studying. Teachers are encouraged to take this additional training in order to make the transition to remote learning smoother for everyone involved.
2. Teaming up with online universities
Colleges and individual students are choosing to work with online universities, such as University of the People, in order to supplement credits online or help teachers and students learn more about online education from universities that already function completely online.
University of the People is a tuition-free online university that offers degrees in business administration, computer science, health science, and education — all through distance learning. By teaming up, colleges are able to learn what makes online education unique, and how to implement it properly into their own courses.
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3. Emphasis on communication
In light of all the academic changes, colleges are making it a priority to keep students informed about any updates.This includes communication between staff and students as the faculty transitions from in-person instruction to remote classes. Staff are making a point to be available for questions, issues, and trial classes online, so that students can adjust to their new studies.
4. Emphasis on support
Faculty across the board are trying to make the new learning experience a positive one, despite the difficulties and adjustments. In their updates and personal communication with students, colleges place an emphasis on mutual understanding and support. The attitude that colleges are trying to take is one of teamwork and support as both teachers and students navigate this atypical semester together.
In addition, colleges are helping students who do not have the right equipment for online courses, such as laptops, tablets, and wifi, and well as extra tutoring and educational support for those who may be struggling academically due to the changes.
The Bottom Line
Colleges across the country are taking precautionary measures according to the CDC guidelines in order to combat the spread of coronavirus on their campuses and communities. These precautionary measures mean that a lot of colleges are closing down and moving online — even before anyone has tested positive in their community. The overall attitude seems to be the approach of “better safe than sorry,” as faculty looks out for the students in their care.
A big emphasis, by both colleges and the CDC, is put on the importance of continuing quality education despite the recent difficulties. Both teachers and students are working to navigate the new semester through distance education.
Last but not least, colleges put an emphasis on support and mutual understanding between faculty and students as they navigate this difficult transition.