Going Back to Campus in Fall 2020? Here’s What’s Happening Around the US

Many college students had the rug pulled out from under them when schools closed down due to the coronavirus outbreak. Little consolation was found when some refunds were denied, and online classes were the only option for finishing out the semester. With the Fall 2020 semester approaching faster and faster each day, it doesn’t hurt to prepare now for what is coming in late August or early September.

No Classes on Campus

One possibility that has already been set up is to not meet in-person whatsoever. In fact, all University of California and Cal State Universities have announced that they will not be holding any classes on campuses and will only have virtual classes. Other universities are still deciding what to do or waiting until more time has passed to make a final decision.

The thought of going fully online is not sitting well with many students who have stated they signed up and paid for the full college experience of sitting in a classroom, talking with a professor and being able to discuss issues during office hours. Online classes don’t always allow for the maximum learning possibilities for all students and this learning option may leave some students who need hands-on experience behind.

Partial In-class Curricula

Some colleges have begun working with professors to find the best way to have some time in a classroom setting with additional support and lessons to be available online. This would require that class sizes be limited depending on the amount of existing space in a classroom and social distancing standards.

Just as stated above, there are many students that don’t believe they are able to take full advantage of class involvement and could fall behind very easily with studies and lesson comprehension. Additionally, many students do not have access to their own computers, relying upon student library equipment for online materials. Being limited in on-campus access to computers and other tools could be prohibitive in someone getting through their degree program.

In-person Instruction

Some colleges, especially in states that have begun loosening restrictions on their population, have announced they will be conducting classes in-person with no real plans for online or virtual lessons. There are plans, however, to make sure that social distancing is happening during and between classes, including regulations about the routine cleaning of common areas and the wearing of PPE while on campus.

There are many students and parents that are still worried that a wide-spread uptick in coronavirus cases could happen when school starts back.

Gap Year

Many students aren’t liking the choice their college has made and are opting for taking a year off. Usually making the choice to skip out for a year is so that a student can save up enough money, or backpack across Europe to find themselves. However, this is not going to be the case this time around with unemployment levels at record highs in some places and travel being discouraged for the time being. Taking a gap year may be the right course of action for a student if he or she will not learn well with only online classes.

How different will things look?

Because college campuses are practically small cities with housing, cafeterias, gyms and even businesses, things could look drastically different.

Dorms and off-campus housing authorities have a lot to consider when placing students. How many students can live in a dorm room that typically housed four? Are they going to decrease the capacity? What about communal bathrooms and kitchen areas; will schedules be established and how will they be enforced? What about private housing and ensuring the safety of students?

Some of the issues with crowded housing might be mitigated by the fact that many potential students are opting to attend a junior college or university closer to home and look at transferring to their desired college a year or two down the road.

As for students relying on meal plans, there will likely see a dramatic change in how their food is prepared, served and where it is eaten. It is believed that the same regulations that restaurants are working under will be the same for campus cafeterias, where anyone who is handling food preparations will be required to wear a mask. Service of the meals may be low- or no-contact delivery. And, limitations to the number of people that can be in sit-down areas may necessitate larger dining areas, designated eating times or the ability to take food to a dorm room.

Sports and working out are a huge part of most colleges, whether it be for college credit classes, staying fit, or working out as part of a collegiate team. For the most part, workouts can happen in gyms with everyone social distancing and making sure machines and equipment are wiped down after every use. However, if competitive, contact sports are going to happen – which hasn’t been completely eliminated for all teams – games could potentially be played in empty, or low occupancy, stadiums and arenas.

How can I stay safe?

Essentially, you’ve already learned what you need to know to keep you safe; all the social distancing, handwashing, and face mask wearing that has been going on for the last few months is what you should keep on doing.

There may be some more diligence you would put into things like wiping off a desk before sitting down, or not touching commonly used things like handrails, doorknobs and elevator buttons. But being aware of these things can be integrated into your daily habits as you make an effort to avoid spreading germs.