education higher

Latest News on Coronavirus and $23 Billion Higher Education Relief Bill

According to the New York Times, many American universities and colleges have either opted for online classes or delayed the beginning of their spring semester to prevent the spread of coronavirus on their campuses. Because of the fear that students may bring the virus into campus dorms and eventually spread it to surrounding communities, some schools have delayed or discouraged travel. However, some higher education institutions have opted to offer more in-person classes and host more students on their campuses.

Are Higher Ed Faculty, Staff, and Students Prioritized for Vaccination?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through its Advisory Committee (ACIP) has provided states with recommendations to help them with coronavirus vaccination-related decisions. However, policies on who is prioritized in the COVID-19 vaccination lines are being decided by the states. ACIP guidelines recommend that essential workers, including those who work in colleges, universities, schools, and daycares, should be part of Phase 1B (the second phase) of the vaccination plan.

In some states like Florida and West Virginia, public colleges have begun inoculating some faculty and staff who are not part of their healthcare team. Late last month, West Virginia University began giving COVID-19 vaccinations to staff and faculty over the age of fifty. Conversely, students in their teens and 20s are nearly at the back of the COVID-19 vaccination queue.

Higher Education Responses to COVID-19

An analysis by Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering reveals that a peak in coronavirus cases on university campuses precedes a peak in the surrounding communities. A similar study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that when a large university campus opens for in-person classes, COVID-19 cases in the surrounding community can increase by 56% within three weeks. Another analysis by the New York Times found a link between campus infections and coronavirus-related death tolls in surrounding communities. In education settings, higher numbers of COVID-19 cases may translate to higher transmission rates in the wider community.  Therefore, the response by higher education institutions to COVID-19 is critical.  Last semester, colleges that did regular and mandatory coronavirus testing were better at maintaining low infection rates. Many schools have set tighter testing regulations this semester. The important theme will be tech, tracking, and privacy.

Worsening Financial Toll for Schools and Students

A recent survey by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) involved 68 institutions and found revenue declined in 87% of those institutions. The survey also found three-quarters of the colleges spent more funds on COVID-19 prevention than they expected. A survey by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities found a similar trend. With declining revenues and increasing COVID-19 related costs, colleges and universities are now grappling with increasingly tight budgets.

Limited Resources for Students and Schools

The pandemic has forced many schools to cut entire departments and lay off faculty. The $23 billion allocated by the Higher Education bill is far less than what colleges and universities need to cover their ballooning costs. Students are also grappling with pandemic-related financial difficulties. Student enrollment has declined, particularly in community colleges, because many people are now struggling financially. Some students also feel that online-only education doesn’t provide proper value for their money.

Pandemic’s Toll on College Applications

The pandemic has disrupted all aspects of the lives of high school seniors. Seniors are now facing this extraordinary college application season without ACT or SAT entrance scores. College applications are lacking the community service records and extracurricular activities performed by most seniors.  Colleges are now being forced to find new ways of evaluating students applying to their institutions.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge financial challenges for American universities and colleges. For more information about the financial outlook of higher learning careers, contact the professionals at McKnight Associates, Inc today. We are ready to offer you hands-on human resource consulting for colleges, universities, medical centers, and organizations of all sizes.