What are Colleges Doing in Response to COVID-19?
As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the world, students are wondering what their colleges and universities are going to be doing in order to ensure their safety and stop the spread of the virus. Many colleges have already taken action by swiftly closing down campuses and asking students to complete their studies from home, but more needs to be done in order to ensure that both educators and students are prepared for some potentially serious disruption.
The novel coronavirus that is currently changing life as we know it is called SARS-CoV-2 and the disease that it results in is called COVID-19. The virus is closely related to the SARS virus, causing potentially serious respiratory symptoms. Many people who contract the virus experience only mild cold-like symptoms, but there is always the risk of those symptoms turning deadly, particularly in people who have underlying health conditions.
Many universities are already helping by allowing the use of their science labs and research facilities to test for the coronavirus and providing final-year medical and nursing students to the front line of coronavirus containment and treatment. But for students who aren’t involved in the medical, scientific, and research side of the university, there’s still a lot to think about. Here’s what colleges and universities are doing to ensure student safety and play a key role in the fight against the pandemic.
Social Distancing and Hygiene Measures
Most campuses have closed to students, with a skeleton staff to ensure that operations are kept ticking over. While it’s not yet certain whether or not campuses are going to reopen for the upcoming semester, good hand hygiene measures along with social distancing rules should be put in place and followed by anybody who is spending time on campus. To best protect yourself and others from COVID-19 when on the college campus, you should:
- Practice frequent hand washing with running water and antibacterial soap
- Use a hand sanitizer where it is not possible to wash hands
- Practice good respiratory hygiene by coughing or sneezing into a tissue, disposing of it correctly and then washing your hands afterward
- Wearing a surgical mask or a cloth mask to cover your face and nose if you can
If you are planning to be on campus in the future and are going to wear a mask as a preventative measure, it’s important that you know how to use one correctly. Surgical masks are ideal for protecting others around you from infection and are less likely to prevent you from contracting the virus, but it is still good practice to wear one if you can. Cloth masks, which you can make at home, are ideal as wearing a respirator mask could make it harder for healthcare workers to access them.
Studying from Home
The most likely measure that many colleges and universities are set to take for the upcoming semester is encouraging students to study from home wherever possible. This is likely to be made possible through distance learning and online classrooms, which are becoming increasingly more popular in the world of education.
Chances are, if you are starting a degree program or returning to college this fall, you might be an online student for a while. Staying at home and minimizing any trips out to only the essentials is the best way to ensure that the novel coronavirus is contained and the spread of infection kept to a minimum before a vaccine is made available, which is expected at some point next year.
If you’re new to studying online, there are several things to keep in mind:
- Spend some time getting to know and familiarizing yourself with your online learning portal before classes begin
- Communicate with fellow students often using chat rooms, social media, group chats, and video calling; the collaboration and social aspect of college is just as important as the classroom side of things
- Set up a dedicated study area in your home to minimize distractions while learning
- Create a study timetable and stick to it, to help avoid procrastination or getting behind as you adjust to learning online
For current distance learning students at colleges like the Suffolk University Online, you’re already at an advantage as this is how you learn anyway. If you’re considering going to college this year and want to minimize COVID-19 related disruptions to your studies, it might be worth thinking about enrolling on an online course instead, since there will be fewer hiccups compared to a traditional class adjusting to studying online.
There’s no denying that COVID-19 has had a huge impact on almost every aspect of our lives. Many people have been unable to go to work, and those who work in the service industry, for example, may have found themselves furloughed until further notice or without a job completely, which can have a serious impact on one’s ability to study. If you’re a parent at college, you might have less free time than you’re used to with kids being off school and the new responsibility of homeschooling.
Because of this, it has been majorly important for colleges and universities to recognize the additional struggles of their students as a direct result of the pandemic. If you are out of work due to COVID-19, you might be able to apply for more financial aid or a payment holiday for your tuition fees if you pay in installments, in order to help you manage financially until things return to normal. Get in touch with your college as soon as possible to see what measures they have in place for:
- Financial aid for students who are out of work or otherwise financially suffering as a result of the pandemic
- Extension deadlines for students who are finding it difficult to complete assignments on time due to COVID-19 related disruptions
- Support for students who are struggling with mental health during this time
- Support for students who have contracted COVID-19 or have a family member with the virus
- Support measures for students who are at high risk
Being a student in the time of COVID-19 is scary, but colleges and universities have a number of measures in place to support and protect you.