The coronavirus pandemic has toppled the world of higher education, with Universities and colleges trying to find out ways to reopen soon. But it will take some time before things get back to normal. That’s why universities in the US and across the world have started adapting to the new normal due to the current pandemic situation. The downside is that the Universities are facing a decline in enrollment and revenue, many had to even layoff its staff. In this blog, we will discuss about how US Universities are dealing with the pandemic.
In this blog, we will take a look at how US universities are dealing with the current covid-19 situation.
How are US Universities dealing with the pandemic?
In the months of March and April, when it was just the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the colleges and Universities started sending their students back home and resorted to online classes. But with the coronavirus pandemic not going away anytime soon, the Universities are facing the problem of how to start the incoming fall semester.
Many US universities had planned to do a blend of both online and in-person classes but with the pandemic showing no signs of abating, something else needs to be thought of. With the number of coronavirus cases increasing day by day in the US, many students are opting for fully remote courses.
Also, many colleges and Universities are allowing only a limited number of students on their campus at one time- like they are bringing back freshmen in the fall and seniors in the spring. Medical Universities who have bigger campuses are in a better position to conduct mass testing than the smaller schools which are relying completely on private labs. Several colleges have started encouraging their students to use contact-tracing apps to help in containing covid-19 outbreak.
This is how the US Universities are dealing with the pandemic situation.
Online instruction or virtual classes
The University of Washington in Seattle has shifted all its classes from offline to online. Not to forget that the city has been the epicenter of the covid-19 outbreak in the US. With more than 40,000 students, the professors are trying their level best and have set up remote learning options. Since the administration at the University realized very early that this is something that is not going away too soon, they started online classes at the beginning of March or April itself.
Similar scenes are unfolding across US universities and the world at large. While the lecture halls remain silent, the learning has never stopped. The teachers now give classes online and have a set schedule for all their classes with a set deadline for assignments and tests. Not only that, you will get feedback from your teachers once you complete your test. Otherwise, also students can get in touch with their teachers as and when they want.
Future of learning post coronavirus pandemic
It is quite likely that the future of teaching will be a blend of online and in-person education as it can make learning an option for all ages and classes.
Do you know that the eight Ivy League universities are offering more than 450 courses online for free of cost. The students who complete these courses will receive a ‘verified certificate’. Harvard, Cornell, Brown, Columbia, Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania comprise the eight Ivy League universities. They are among the most prestigious universities in the world and it is very tough to get admission into one of these.
Innovative ways of teaching amid pandemic
Another interesting thing to have arised out of the current situation is that some Universities are trying to find new ways to teach students keeping safety in mind. The class meetings are being held outside so that there is space for physical distance and also everyone can feel a bit relaxed amidst the chaos. Isn’t this an amazing idea?
Some instances of these are Rice University in Houston, Texas, Amherst College a small liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Eckerd College in St Petersburg, Florida, who are using outdoor classroom spaces to contain the risk of covid in the US.
This is not going to be a temporary solution as the institutions are considering having classes outside even on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic. They are not holding outside classes only for a few days but to find solutions to support regular class meetings in cooler weather.
Rice University has done something which has already set an example for other Institutions. They have constructed five open-air tents that can accommodate 25-30 students in each one of them. Not to forget that safety is utmost important now so each tent has enough space between students and teachers. They will stay at a distance of six feet from each other in class.
Similarly, the University of California, Davis has also constructed tents to hold classes outside keeping safety in mind.
Amherst College in Massachusetts has also made investments in infrastructure which allows outdoor learning for students. This will allow for almost a near-normal fall semester for its upcoming students.
Now colleges and Universities are avoiding bringing back their students on campus immediately after the November holiday in order to contain the spread of coronavirus cases. The students would certainly have spent time in close contact with their friends and family over the break.
Institutions like Amherst who have colder temperatures are most likely to keep students off campus even after Thanksgiving and it will cut down on the need to depend on outdoor learning spaces December onwards.
Campuses after Covid-19
The current situation has encouraged the Higher Education institutions to reconsider the ways teaching has been done till now, so that learning never stops.
There have been several studies which have suggested that outside learning helps students in the long term. There have been evidences that there are positive associations between
Function of memory and the types of emotions students experience when they are outside. In other words, it can be said that students will retain more information when they learn in a playful, outdoor setting.
This will be hugely beneficial for students’ mental health as spending time outdoors will be a breather for them amidst all the stress and chaos of covid-19.
As colleges around the world continue to grapple with whether they should start with offline classes or continue with remote learning, we feel that outdoor learning spaces, virtual classes, and a blend of teaching will be a great option in the long run.
I hope now you came to know how the US Universities are dealing with the pandemic situation.