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COVID-19 is still here. Sad but true: all the efforts taken to stop the spread of the virus had not quite succeeded. Without a 100% working treatment and no mass vaccination, we still live amid the uncertainty and have to take whatever precautions that are available.
Considering the situation, there’s been a lot of debate about whether the students should return to campuses this fall or if distance learning is still the best choice. Heated discussions are still going on though the fall semester has already begun in the US.
Safety Above All
The main subject is, of course, safety. Some students, as well as the staff, are worried that the premature return to on-campus classes can put them under unnecessary risk. Thus, they insist on continuing with online learning. But there’s still no consensus within either group towards this subject. Besides, there’s the money question, too.
So, most American colleges and universities have made a difficult choice. They reopened the campuses and started to deliver at least some of their classes the traditional way. Of course, this was done not without precautions.
But no matter how the classes are delivered – on-campus or remotely – students are going to face the usual workload. And it may get even more overwhelming, considering the situation.
In such cases, students should be aware that there are legal ways to ease the stress by handling some parts of the tasks to professional services. For example, writepaper.com can provide expert help with essays and other academic papers.
But what can be done with the stress of constantly being afraid to contract the virus and fall ill or pass it on to other people? And is there a reason to be stressed?
Firstly, let’s examine the figures. According to the data provided by The New York Times, there have been more than 88,000 cases and 60 deaths registered in approximately 1,600 American colleges and universities since the pandemic began (as of September 10).
The deaths happened mostly in spring and among employees, not students. Still, dorm reopenings and renewed on-campus classes provoked recent spikes in numbers.
Colleges and universities realize the gravity of the situation. Authorities try to do whatever they can to prevent new cases of the novel coronavirus in their campuses. The measures include:
social distancing and wearing face masks;
moratoria on large social gatherings;
There are also other measures, but these are the most common ones. Let’s look at each of them more closely.
Partially Remote Classes
Most higher education institutions in the US continue to deliver classes online and strongly recommend off-campus housing for all students. Still, small numbers of students are allowed to return to campuses and receive courses in a mixed format.
For example, in the University of South Carolina, which is known to have the second-largest number of reported cases of infection, face-to-face classes are currently limited to fewer than 100 students or less.
The University of Alabama is the current leader by the number of cases registered. There, courses are delivered via Zoom, mostly. Yet, the schedule is planned in such a way that a majority of courses include at least some type of in-person instruction.
For those who are allowed to return to campuses, social distancing is obligatory. All students must avoid close contact indoors and outdoors. This applies to both the study process and non-formal gatherings.
To make sure this rule is being observed, several measures have been taken. Furniture has been either rearranged or removed, acrylic glass shields have been installed, additional signs indicating the traffic flow have been added.
Wearing of masks is also mandatory at colleges and universities. Generally, guidelines include recommendations to wear masks covering both nose and mouth in all indoor university or college facilities. Masks can be either washable (made of fabric) or disposable (surgical-style). Fabric masks must be washed every day.
Testing in another cornerstone of the safe fall semester. All students arriving on campuses take obligatory tests. For example, Harvard requires students to be tested immediately upon arrival.
Tests should also be taken immediately if a student feels any symptoms of COVID-19 or had been in contact with someone who tested positive. In some universities and colleges, specially developed apps send notifications to students who happen to find themselves in dangerous areas.
Parties and other non-formal gatherings are also a problem. And though students still want to party, it’s not an option for them to do that while the pandemic is not over.
All other “non-essential gatherings” like picnics, club meetings, etc. are prohibited both on and off-campus. Those who decide to try their luck and violate the rules will be subject to “escalated consequences.”
Quarantine must still be a word commonly heard on campuses. Quarantining is obligatory for:
students newly arriving on campus;
students who tested positive for COVID-19;
those who have been in close contact with those who tested positive.
Quarantine usually lasts for 10-14 days. During this period, a student stays either in a location off-campus or isolated in their dorm room.
Listed above are only some of the measures that American colleges and universities take to prevent new outbreaks of COVID-19. The full list would have been much longer.
So, it’s hard to reproach the administrations for not doing enough. The educational system has to somehow continue functioning. And students should eventually come to terms with the new normal and bear the responsibility of strictly observing all the rules. It’s everything that can be done now, after all.
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