The 2020 Back-to-College looks different than previous years due to Coronavirus. Colleges and Universities must adapt to the ongoing pandemic. These include revised calendars, new safety protocols, and altered methods of delivering education. The goal remains to deliver a safe and valuable educational experience for their students.
Every school approaches the situation differently. No universal playbook exists. Various voices direct the change including individual state guidelines and mandates. We covered some of changes expected back in May, but this blog tackles more details.
The Chronicle of Higher Education manages an up-to-date breakdown of the different education models of 1,215 schools. Currently 85% of the schools in the report plan on having some level of campus presence. Only 11% of the schools are online only. Even with the online only schools, some of these schools will still open up their dorms to allow a portion of their enrollment on campus so they can access some of the facilities.
Schools focusing on in-person and hybrid models adopted procedures to reduce risks. Some large lectures will be moved online, but smaller breakout sections will meet in person. The goal is to reduce campus traffic and number of people in spaces. Smaller classrooms will be avoided as larger classrooms enable greater social distancing.
Additionally the schools tried to factor in times to clean classrooms between each lesson. Classes will now run 7 days a week and begin earlier in the morning and extend later in the evening to accommodate.
New Safety Protocols
Most schools require facemasks to be worn while on campus. Whether in the halls or walking the quad, people need to wear masks. Many schools installed hand sanitizer stations across the campus to encourage frequent hand washing.
Some campuses are banning group meetings over a certain size. In certain cases this extends to Greek Life. Fraternities and sororities need to adjust to these stipulations.
Dorm access will be stricter than normal. Some universities banned students from entering a dorm if they do not live in that building. Other schools are only allowing certain class year’s access to dorms. For example Bowdoin College plans to only allow freshmen on campus this fall.
Academic calendars feature big changes for the 2020 back-to-college year. In the hopes of preventing students from contracting virus off campus, they have canceled fall breaks in October and won’t let students return to campus after Thanksgiving.
The plans vary by school. Some will completely wrap up the semester before then. Others will only have a week of online exams after Thanksgiving. Yet others will teach online instruction for the final couple weeks before resuming online exams as originally scheduled.
To help with the shorten schedule, start dates of some colleges moved to early August. The schools hope to maximize the dates so they can hold quick intensive study in-person. Fewer vacation days (including holding classes during Labor Day) allows them to finish sooner.
Even with all the changes instituted for the 2020 Back-to-College year, schools plan to remain flexible. The pandemic keeps evolving and decisions made today may change tomorrow. While universities want to avoid another shut-down, they know they need to prepare for the scenario. The hope is that the new rules in place will limit the need to alter their educational programs further. Despite these restrictions, there remains exciting ways to market to students while they learn on college campuses or even when they learn remotely.