Student News

Coronavirus Impacts Colleges: Campus Closures, Admissions and College Sports

Kathryn Knight Randolph

March 16, 2020

Coronavirus Impacts Colleges: Campus Closures, Admissions and College Sports
Updates on how Coronavirus is affecting the lives of students.
COVID-19, more commonly referred to as Coronavirus, has arrived on U.S. soil and shifted the landscape dramatically in the last few weeks. Individuals have been quarantined to their homes, grocery stores have been completely depleted of their toilet paper and hand sanitizer supplies, and a simple cough in public is enough to make dozens of heads turn. The greatest impact of COVID-19, though, comes with hundreds of school closures across the country. From college campuses to preschools, education centers are shutting their doors to teachers, staff and students in an effort to eliminate the spread of the virus. The impact of this decision is far-reaching; take a look at just some of the ways campus closures are upending every day life.

Colleges Cancel In-Person Courses

As it stands now, over 100 colleges across the country have cancelled all in-person classes, moving course instruction to online platforms. Colleges, like Harvard and Rutgers, have taken things a step further and required students to completely leave campus, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Some colleges have eliminated in-person courses for a few weeks; others are suspending for the rest of the spring semester. While a majority of students that have been asked to leave campus have merely gone back to their parents’ home, the decision from these universities has left some students wondering where to go. What about students who don’t have a home to return to? Worse, what about those international students who are restricted from flying home? And other students wonder how they’ll be able to access online learning platforms when they don’t have ready access to an Internet connection for whatever reason.
Though college closures have been met with frustration, exasperation and anxiety, some have prompted anger. Students at the University of Dayton rioted after they were informed that the school was closing all student housing. The Dayton Daily News reports that police officers had to clear the more than 1,000 students that took to the streets with pepper balls and calls to disperse. Some colleges have taken some of the above factors into account. DePauw University in Indiana is allowing students to petition to stay on campus. International students, those without reliable Internet access, students that require specialized equipment in order to complete their courses and any others with extenuating circumstances, are encouraged to petition to stay. Alumni at the school have begun donating to the university’s emergency fund in order to help students with any expenses that have arisen as a result of the school closure. Many colleges have no experience with online learning. While larger universities may be equipped with streaming services and online education sharing platforms, smaller colleges are having to scramble to provide platform access to students. Some are giving students a one-week break from academics in order to adjust their syllabi and lesson plans and learn how to use online platform for their teaching purposes.

Coronavirus and College Admissions

At this point in admissions, nearly all students have their applications into schools. However, this is a big season for admissions offices in particular. This is their chance in the year to really woo students. Most campuses host multiple Admitted Student events to better show off student housing, facilities, classrooms and equipment. This is also a time in the process when students visit their final choice colleges and meet with Admissions Officer one-on-one to discuss decisions and concerns. Instead, colleges are hosting events online. Inside Higher Ed reports that at least two colleges, Stevens Institute of Technology and the University of South Dakota, are now utilizing PlatformQ Education to host online admitted student open houses. Though vastly different from an in-person experience, these institutions are still able to showcase their schools in hopes of winning students’ admission decisions. If you had plans to visit the colleges you’re considering this spring, call or email ahead of time to be sure they’re still taking visitors. In addition to calling about campus tours, at least three dozen colleges have pushed back the May 1 Decision Deadline for students as of March 15, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. If you're curious about your colleges' plans, email or call if you haven't already heard otherwise. At this time, drastic changes are being made and campuses are having to adjust, literally, overnight. The chances of Coronavirus impacting admissions at this point in the process are increasing every day.

Colleges Sports Cancelled

Leaving no part of the college life untouched, Coronavirus is even impacting college sports. Many colleges and universities have cancelled the entirety of the sports season. This is in large part due to the fact that these college teams travel frequently, and the events attract large crowds. Perhaps the most devastating news to all that follow college sports is the decision to cancel March Madness, according to CBS. Just a week ago, the tournament was scheduled to commence as usual, allowing only essential staff and family members to attend. However, in a decision yesterday, it was revealed that the Coronavirus risk is too great for teams to be playing one another. And look no further for evidence of that than the NBA. Two Utah Jazz players tested positive for Coronavirus. As a result, the entire team and anyone that had been traveling with them has been instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to CBS. Additionally, five other teams have self-quarantined after playing the Utah Jazz in the past 10 days. This is exactly the kind of thing that college sports teams want to avoid.

Social Distancing on College Campuses

So far, experts have stated that the best way to prevent the spread of Coronavirus is to practice “social distancing.” Though the CDC has been familiar with the term for years, it’s just now becoming an every day phrase for most of us. Social distancing helps to prevent the spread of a disease or virus by making a conscious effort to reduce close contact with others. One reporter at The Atlantic sought to figure out what social distancing should look like – so she asked a panel of public health experts. Though their answers varied somewhat, their advice was still the same. Avoid large, public places – like bars and clubs. Get together with friends – as long as no one has symptoms and they are not those that fall into the at-risk categories for this virus (at-risk individuals are those over 60 as well as those who are immunocompromised). However, if you don’t feel comfortable going into a social setting of small friends, feel free to say no (for the first time, everyone will readily understand your excuse). Instead of going to the gym, public health experts suggest exercising outside, which will get easier as temperatures continue to warm across the U.S. On college campuses specifically, try to avoid the computer lab or any other space that requires many students to share equipment. Take your food from the cafeteria to-go – or distance yourself from others while eating. The impact to daily life is, undoubtedly, unprecedented; however, social distancing has been proven to work. Though it may feel silly at first, everyone is striving to abide by adherence to this practice. By exercising this type of care now, students can expect to return to their normal college life sooner rather than later. And we can think of one great thing to do while you social distance in response to Coronavirus in the USA: search for scholarships!

Special Concessions for Students

As states have begun to go into lockdown and a national emergency has been declared, companies and politicians are doing what they can to eliminate the stress of disruption on college students. President Trump announced that student loan interest will be waived for all borrowers with federal student loans, according to Forbes. This does not apply to private student loans. Borrowers with private loans should look for messages from their loan holders – perhaps they will follow the President’s lead and do the same. U-Haul is offering 30 days free storage for college students that have had to suddenly vacate their dorms. This will allow those students who need to vacate their student housing but live far away from their homes or final destination a place to store their college life in the meantime. Students must show a college I.D. in order to qualify, and free storage is subject to availability. Fastweb will continue to provide a Coronavirus update and how the virus is impacting colleges, financial aid and the admissions process. We seek to keep our members informed as we all navigate these ever-changing circumstances together.

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