Entrepreneur Chad Everett Harris Explains the Effects of COVID-19 on Post-Secondary Campuses in the United States
As countries across the globe enter lock down mode, tens of millions of students find themselves unable to attend traditional classrooms and lecture halls. Earlier in March as positive COVID-19 cases began to rise exponentially in the U.S., social distancing and quarantining took effect. Chad Everett Harris, an entrepreneur from New Orleans, Louisiana, understands the importance of obtaining a post-secondary education and how challenging this time is for both students and educators. He takes the time to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on campuses nationwide.
Various representatives of American educational intuitions announced that all classes would cease immediately and be moved to online platforms such as Zoom. With hundreds of individuals on campus daily, the shift was deemed necessary to ensure the health and safety of staff and students. Many professors have now opted to record classes in advance and are available via email for any questions or concerns regarding the lecture material.
With students unable to be on campus, along with limits set on large gatherings, educators and administrations are trying to determine the best way to administer exams as the school year comes to a close. While some exams have been cancelled outright, many have been replaced by an end of year assignment or open book exam format.
Chad Everett Harris claims that some professors have also opted to change the weighing of midterms and assignments, forgoing any finals at all, helping students to focus on other subjects and taking care of their physical and mental health during these uncertain times. Other colleges are allowing for course finals to be substituted with a simple pass/fail mark rather than grades to allow for current coursework to count towards a credit.
A limit on gatherings also puts into question the ability for graduation ceremonies to take place for final year students. As individuals complete their course work from home, it is still uncertain if traditional ceremonies will be able to take place in the following months, or if students will be mailed their diplomas. Some colleges have announced online ceremonies, where students will be able to log in and partake in celebrations with their peers and professors. For those that have decided not to finish the year through distance learning, colleges are allowing them to drop their course with no repercussions or fees, allowing them to take an extra semester once they open, and graduate at a later date.
For students whose curriculum includes international travel for master’s practicum work, or for exchange programs, the current travel restrictions put in place by the USA and almost all other countries put all that on hold says Chad Everett Harris. It is uncertain how this will affect student graduation timelines, but colleges are working hard to find alternative plans for students that must graduate or have work already lined up. For students that are able to wait, colleges are advising them to allow COVID-19 to slow down and travel restrictions to be lifted to allow for further planning of travel.
As with lecture halls, hundreds of students reside within on-campus residences, and for these reasons many colleges have made the tough decision to shut down residences, asking students to go back to their homes. For those students that are unable to do so, such as international students, campus administration is looking at options of spreading students apart to help prevent the spread of potential cases of COVID-19. Colleges that have apartment style dorm rooms are prioritizing keeping students here, as students are not exposed to one-another in common rooms or bathrooms, as most have kitchens and bathrooms within the unit.
International Student Population
Colleges are also facing uncertainty regarding the number of international students on campuses across the country, realizing that there is a possibility that these students will have to stay on campus throughout the summer holidays as they continue to face travel restrictions. Campus administrations are working hard with students to help determine what is needed and what they can provide. While it is still unknown how long lock downs will go on for, it also remains to be seen how many international students that have been previously accepted to colleges across the country will be able to attend, and if they are unable, what that will mean for upcoming matriculation.