Back to school looks a lot different in 2020 than it has in years past - literally. With face masks required and social distancing enforced, the curse of the Coronavirus is creating a new normal on college campuses.
While the jury is still out on when there will be a safe and effective treatment for Coronavirus as well as when a vaccination will be available, universities are trying their best to ensure a safe and lasting return for students. This, however, comes with complete uncertainty for both the administrators, students and families alike.
Vice President of TVP Communications, Erin Hennessy, states:
"Institutions that are planning to reopen their campuses this fall must walk a “very fine line” between instilling confidence in students and their families that it is safe to return and warning them that bad things could happen if they do."
So what to do! Based on CDC Guidelines most colleges and universities are implementing as many steps as are affordable to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on their campuses:
Making Masks Mandatory. No one can walk campus or attend class without a face mask.
Enforcement of Social Distancing. There will be consequences such as monetary fines and school suspensions if gatherings are not 'small' and students are not physically distancing (staying 6 - 10 feet apart).
Accessible COVID-19 Testing. Both on campus at the health centers as well as off campus at urgent care clinics and hospitals, the importance of having testing readily available cannot be overstated.
Online Classes. Instead of coming into a classroom setting, professors are offering online education as a safer option. And, since students will be looking at their screens more than ever with this option, don't forget to have them invest in Bluelight glasses.
Turning Larger Spaces Into Classrooms. In effort to keep students spread out, some institutions are taking their larger spaces (i.e., gymnasiums) and converting them into classrooms. If this is not feasible, classroom settings are being reduced to 1/2 the student capacity so that desks can be spread out.
Extra Measures For Cleaning & Disinfecting. More resources are being dedicated to cleaning and disinfecting than ever before. Hand sanitizing stations are more prominent as well as the relentless efforts of cleaning crews.
Plexiglass Barriers. Keeping these "shields" between students and administrators has become an effective way for employees of the colleges to stay healthy.
Other colleges are taking some more "out of the box" steps. By educating students on the science behind COVID-19 through accredited courses and mandatory training sessions, they are hoping to get students' support with safe practices.
We are all in this together.