by Joyce Slayton Mitchell
HARDWICK – When COVID-2019 swept across the USA in spring of 2020, colleges closed. After a year of disruption, and trying all kinds of living and learning situations, colleges are now working hard to get back to normal, living on campus with in-class learning. That means sitting in the classroom with a professor in front of you, eating in the college dining rooms, living in college dorms, and back to normal in sports and the arts.
In order to be back together in the classroom, many colleges are requiring vaccinations and masks in class, although not all. Some colleges offer incentives to get the shot, such as free tuition, a computer, meal plans and more. If students are not vaccinated, a few colleges are requiring students to pay for their weekly testing if they want to attend class. That is a significant bill and can add another $1,500 to college costs.
The strength of American higher education is that the colleges are all different and can make their own rules. That means there is no uniformity in U.S. colleges’ solutions for COVID-19 on campus. It’s up to you to check out the status of the COVID-19 regulations on your campus.
There is, however, a history from last year that gives students and their families some idea of future solutions for COVID on your campus. You can now look into your particular campus and learn how they handled last year’s students who tested positive. Was there a separate dormitory for those students? Was there on-line learning available in all their dorm rooms? Where and how did they get their meals? Or were COVID cases sent home? It’s your responsibility to ask those questions before you go on campus in August and early September.
No matter the rules in September, most colleges will make further rules regarding COVID-19 based on the vaccination rates on campus and the rate of new cases occurring as the year progresses. Students who break the rules of their college COVID-19 regulations will most likely be suspended.
Last year the academic calendar was changed significantly as colleges tried to contain the virus on campus. This year, however, the calendar is expected to return to normal for most all colleges, with typical Thanksgiving, winter, and spring breaks. That is assuming the campus does not spike in COVID-19 cases.
Sports are expected to return to their usual schedules. The athletes have been on campus for weeks, getting ready for all fall sports. College athletic events are expected to be at capacity for players and for spectators as well.
Athletics lift the spirits of the whole student body and will be a major factor in freeing students from the dread and worry of COVID-19.
Learning in the classroom, having a coffee in the student union, meetings in the school newspaper rooms, sitting in the orchestra, marching in the band, planning the campus government platforms, actions for helping the refugees at our southern border, working with political parties are all actions that will get you back to as normal as America can be on our 2,500-plus college campuses. All the new rules and regulations being used to keep up with the changes being thrown at us through COVID-19 is what will keep you safe on campus. College freshman… run with those rules!