Written By: Raffi Kanayan
College campuses are shutting down. Many colleges prepared with PPE and new social distancing rules so that they could reopen in the fall semester, however, in many instances students have hosted large, not socially distanced parties that has resulted in a spike in COVID-19 cases, with most linked to Greek life parties.
So then what are the consequences of a college campus shutting down? It is important to keep kindergarten and elementary schools open as much as possible because some parents cannot afford to take time off work to take care of the kids. Also, in these early years it is very important for the kids to develop basic social skills by interacting with their peers. Online college, on the other hand, does not seem to present the same problem. According to Pew Research, 88% of undergraduates and 93% of graduate students have laptops, not to mention that college students like to be independent and have a flexible schedule. However, some college students rely on college for basic needs. Food, housing, financial aid, health insurance and on campus jobs are all necessities provided by colleges to students in need. Isabelle Liu from UVA, who runs a Facebook page to help fellow college students get supplies, noticed that many have families that are either toxic or abusive.
Another consequence is that online education has certain limits, and thus is inferior to in-person classes and a real college campus experience. Only a few colleges that have shut down have offered cheaper tuition as students do not have access to labs, facilities and face to face guidance. With the current economic recession and the low enrollment this year from frustration with online learning, college prices could spike, adding to the already significant growth since the 20th century. A once accessible secondary education could become not as accessible. The trend that coronavirus affects minorities has already been observed. For example, African Americans are more vulnerable to coronavirus because they are more likely to be exposed to it due to higher use of public transport and because they hold a larger percentage of essential work jobs. Africans Americans also have a higher occurrence of underlying health conditions and have less access to medical care.
While college campuses shutting down might not sound like the worst thing compared to small businesses, it still will have a negative impact on college students, especially freshman who might find it harder to adapt to online schooling. In fact, while many parents are dissatisfied with online learning and are only accepting it because of the danger of coronavirus, education will probably be forever changed due to this pandemic as some workplaces or schools find it more efficient to do certain things online. Colleges should take more precautions as we near winter and the flu season approaches. St. Mary’s has done a phenomenal job in both caring for student health, but also allowing students to experience college with hybrid classes.