In a seemingly never-ending barrage of announcements, colleges and universities around the nation are announcing a shift to virtual learning for the fall semester.
Messages from schools, like the one below, are being shared much too frequently.
Based on a rise in positive COVID-19 test results, primarily from students on college campuses, we are learning that many educational institutions were not adequately prepared for their students’ return and have been forced to change course. After students barely settled into their residences, they were informed that courses would take place online for the foreseeable future.
With the rise in cases among students, it is clear they are aiding the spread. Whether it is due to violating restrictions or a lack of governing guidelines, campus parties are now coined ‘superspreading’ events and blamed for accelerating the spread of the virus. In a scramble to contain an outbreak or prevent further spread of COVID-19 on campus amongst students, staff, and faculty, universities are reverting to a virtual format—and some are even sending students home.
This quick pivot creates even more uncertainty and instability. Students’ heads are already spinning as they try to grasp their changing itineraries, shifting schedules, and less-than-stable living conditions.
While many officials predicted virus spread in uncontrolled situations and places lacking strict protocols and enforcement of safety guidelines, the colleges and universities making headlines thought they adequately prepared for a safe reopening. From having hand sanitizer along campus walking routes to placing restrictions in common areas and conducting universal testing for all students returning to campus, each administration followed its own guidelines and did what they thought was best. However, whether it was a lack of real preparedness, efficient implementation, effective communication, or a gap in leadership, there was a hole in their readiness—and the virus reared its ugly head.
What many educational institutions and other industries lack is a solid plan and the tools to execute that plan to continuously adhere to scientific research and CDC guidance that seem to change often.
An underlying problem with this situation is that students were already nervous and unsure of returning to campus. Parents were wary of what could happen, and faculty and staff had reservations about returning to their professions. As quickly as these campuses promised safety, the promises were broken. Now, most are right back where they started, and the trust these institutions attempted to create has dissipated. It will be twice as challenging to regain that trust.
Is there anything these institutions can do? For one, they can take a step back and learn from their miscalculations and those of their peers. They can reassess their processes and procedures and find guidance that will help them work toward a more effective solution. They can work to give students the best possible experience through their virtual education and learn more about how to secure and improve a future on-campus experience. Through all of this, they will need to provide peace of mind to the entire campus community.
Everyone must understand the requirements to create and maintain a healthy and safe campus environment. It’s about communication and leadership. Leaders must relay the urgency of the situation and compliance in all aspects of student life. From being on-campus to attending off-campus parties, students must ‘buy-into’ avoiding reckless behaviors and hop on board to become part of the solution.
Universities can also invest in tools and technology to do some of this work. For instance, VirusSAFE EDU can assist universities by doing the following:
Campus leaders are tasked with safely reopening their colleges and universities. VirusSAFE EDU is the software solution that will restore confidence within their campus communities and prioritize health and safety.Schedule your demo today!