Colleges are having a hard time figuring out how to get their students back on campus and keep them safe. But as the days draw nearer to classes getting underway, students are beginning to see a glimmer of how the fall may take shape.
We surveyed parents from all over the country to learn about the changes their student’s college are making and here is what we learned.
Some startling new protocols
- Some schools with hall bathrooms may assign specific showers, sinks or toilets to students. Showers may need to be scheduled to prevent overcrowding in the bathrooms.
- Schools are instituting honor codes that encourage students to monitor the behavior of others.
- Some schools are requiring students to take their temperature daily and they may have to answer a few questions every morning certifying that they have not had Covid symptoms.
- Students may be required to use apps like Open Table to make reservations for meals in the cafeteria. Other schools will only be serving carry-out meals.
- Syracuse University will test students randomly and will conduct a wastewater surveillance program that will allow them to identify asymptomatic cases.
- Move-in times and days will be staggered.
- Students will be given the option of coming to campus or staying home.
- Masks will be required on many campuses for most activities.
- Classes will be in larger spaces and even outdoors. Amherst College is looking into renting tents to expand their classroom footprint.
- Lectures may be online, with small sections meeting in person. Classes that are slated to be in person now, may later need to be moved online.
- There will be more time between classes so classrooms can sanitized.
- The plastic shields that we now see at some grocery stores and in restaurants will appear on campus in cafeterias and other public spaces. Professors may lecture behind plexiglass.
- Dorms will be “dedensified” with fewer students per room and fewer using a bathroom. Some colleges have rented hotels and will be housing students there in order to maintain all single rooms on campus. Tufts University is building modular dorms on existing tennis courts.
- Sports may be cancelled or proceed with only a limited number of fans in attendance.
- Some students will going back earlier in August and then leaving at Thanksgiving for the fall semester. The remainder of the semester and exams will be given online in December. Some colleges will be running through Thanksgiving, students will not be allowed to go home for the holiday and the semester will end in early December.
- Orientation, a time when many students relish meeting their new classmates, has been moved online for some colleges.
- Parents Weekends will be cancelled as visitors will be discouraged from coming onto campus.
- Students may have testing done when they arrive on campus and again during the semester, some are requiring weekly testing for students and professors.
- Facilities for quartering students are being prepared in hotels or empty dorms and students with a positive test, and those who live with them, may be moved into these living spaces if they get sick or have a positive test.
- Some colleges will have students remaining in “pods” or “cohorts” to limit their exposure.
Ultimately, no one really knows what the fall will look like, but the schools continue to announce their plans. For those that have announced, there are almost as many scenarios as there are schools with each institution taking into account the peculiarities of their own campuses and student bodies to figure out what works best for them.
Even different schools on the same campus may have different protocols. But one thing seems to be constant, many if not most, schools have expressed the caveat that if things don’t work out as planned, and illness begins to spike students will once again be returning home.
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