In What Ways College Campuses Will Look Different This Fall?
The coronavirus pandemic has altered the course for countless organizations, especially college campuses this fall. With so much economic uncertainty on the horizon, many colleges are playing it safe by slashing expenses.
Here are some of the different paths you can expect colleges to take for the fall semester to stay afloat.
Outlook for College Campuses This Fall
Each campus must deal with its own set of financial issues, as strategic decisions for future growth will be needed to combat the ongoing pandemic. For any given college, student enrollment will help determine which direction the institution will move. A key factor will be the number of students who will reside on campus, as the school earns revenue from their fees.
While the United States has over 5,000 colleges, a survey of 1,200 campuses tracked by The Chronicle estimates that just over half will be open for in-person courses. About a third of these campuses intend to use a hybrid approach between in-person and virtual teaching. Hands-on learning experiences in physical classrooms will be limited in some places.
Significant factors that will affect educational strategies this fall will include:
1. How old the infrastructure is
2. Outdoor climate
3. Available space for social distancing
It’s worth noting that several of America’s colleges and universities are concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest, whereas the West and South have the highest density of young people. Both Northeast and Midwest colleges were facing enrollment drops even before the pandemic began.
How Social Distancing Will Affect College
Social distancing has become the norm during the pandemic era. Since not even the best scientists can definitively forecast the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, social distancing must be part of strategic planning. The challenge is to either put fewer students in existing classrooms or spread them out more in larger converted areas. Education experts suggest either allocating 40 square feet per student or reducing existing room capacity by two-thirds.
College campuses this autumn must decide if they will use existing space or convert venues such as halls, auditoriums, and theaters into classrooms.
The key to the seamless transition will be using open floor space that allows for smooth movement of furniture to help reduce costs. In other words, flexible venues will be favored over those with fixed furniture. But the bigger the room’s size, the more the issues will be with acoustics, where only certain audio technology can make it practical.
Even with the room size and social distancing, bigger rooms generally mean longer cleaning times. So, schools are confronted with the additional expense of ensuring sanitary conditions daily to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Possible solutions include extending school hours or adding Saturday classes.
Behavioral Change for College Students
The changes that need to take place this fall to ensure quality education is mixed between administrative and student behavior are:
The college must invest in appropriate accommodations for a safe environment, while students must be more conscious of social distancing and other new norms affected by the pandemic.
Administrators need to monitor campus buildings to keep capacity low, while students avoid over-populating certain areas. Signage, entrance, and exit arrows can help control foot traffic and guide students through the campus.
Colleges should also consider setting up coronavirus testing areas and temperature checkpoints to prevent the virus from spreading.
Another new direction for colleges to deal with the crisis is to develop smaller communities within the campus. Schools must also be concerned about indoor air quality and how poor ventilation can worsen human health. The solution may involve investing in ultraviolet or HEPA air-cleaning devices.
The fall 2020 semester will be very experimental for higher learning institutions.
Contact the professionals at McKnight Associates, Inc., for more information about how the pandemic will affect college campuses this fall. We consult campuses and other organizations around the world, specializing in customized human resources services.