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Hayden Library at ASU

23 July . 2020

Amid COVID-19, What College Students Can Anticipate Coming Back to School

Here in Estrella, we know the importance of adventure, community, relaxation, and most importantly family. We understand that it is an unusual time and are holding on tight to those core values to keep us going. In these uncertain times, it’s important to take in these moments we have left before sending kids off to school. Relax, embrace your community, and face the uncertainty head-on as you prepare to send your child off on their own adventure.

Many things are changing as a result of the novel Coronavirus largely due to how quickly it can spread. The potential spread of the virus has especially impacted educational institutions. With students in close proximity in classrooms and large lecture halls, and dorms hosting hundreds of students at a time, it's no surprise viruses tend to run rampant in campus environments.

The susceptibility of the Coronavirus has undoubtedly been unique, challenging administrators, educators, and faculty alike to rethink the structure of higher education. College leadership and decision-makers across the country have been feeling the pressure lately from eager, anxiety-ridden parents and students demanding a plan and solutions for the upcoming school year.

How Has The COVID-19 Pandemic Changed What We Know About How Education Is Structured?

Adjusting, physically and emotionally, to the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding the virus hasn't been easy on college students and their parents. Students left for Spring Break and did not return back to campus, a heartbreaking reality for some who were robbed of their graduation right of passage and end of education celebrations. The situation as a whole brought about uncertainty, disdain, and a completely renewed way of finishing the semester.

On a positive note, however, it has exhibited the power of technology as a medium for education communication. Students and professors have shown that online and distance learning is possible for many courses, even for hands-on curriculum, including labs and other health science courses, professors have pivoted and designed integrative visual demonstrations for students to follow along with from the comfort of their homes. New online tools and resources created will continue to enhance day-to-day course activities. These tools and resources can provide students the flexibility to consider online learning options for post-undergraduate master's programs if the thought of returning to campus is unfavorable given the present time.

Not only is the structure of the course curriculum being adjusted, but the physical structure of education also must be considered. Dining halls and library study booths with partitions, classrooms with spaced seating, and more single-person dorm rooms may all make an appearance during the upcoming fall semester and into the future.  But the uncertainty of continued rise in case numbers and the notion that it all could turn on a dime again has caused insurmountable anxiety amongst some.

Easing Back-To-School Anxiety

The beginning of the school year is rapidly approaching and the anxiety is building for students and parents alike. As a parent, it’s especially important to watch for these signs and proactively work to create a sense of calm and a favorable home environment. Try taking a stressed out soon-to-be student on a socially distanced trail walk, to the pool for much-needed R&R, on a sailboat ride across the lake, or make it a family fun night at home complete with a home-cooked meal and movie. Take it from us here in Estrella, there is something for everyone to take their mind off of the everyday world around them.

There are also many precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of infection and provide a peace of mind to students. Before sending them back to school, stock your student up with plenty of masks or face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap, and disinfecting products.

Taking proactive steps can help ease the unique back-to-school anxiety some students are likely experiencing as they wonder what they can expect this fall.

 So, What Can Students Expect Going Back To School In The Fall?

The pandemic plan for colleges and universities in Arizona, and across the country, are still being finalized as students make their way back to colleges in Arizona.  However, some Arizona institutions have responded to the current circumstances with the following adjustments:

Arizona State University

  • Class flexibility for students to choose between three options for courses:
    • ASU Immersion: On-campus, in-person courses taught with the assistance of technology.
    • ASU Sync: Synchronous, technology-enhanced, and fully interactive remote learning using live lectures via Zoom, providing students the option to attend in-person classes or virtually "join" from the socially-distanced comfort of their current location.
    • iCourses: Entirely online: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recently announced that nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. Arizona State issued a statement assuring that "students attending ASU on an F-1 visa in fall 2020 will continue to participate in immersive, synchronous classroom instruction both in-person and through ASU Synch."
  • Face masks required on campus.
  • Adjusted academic calendar to reduce traveling during the semester.

 Estrella Mountain Community College

  • Limited in-person classes with alternative options to take online and hybrid classes during the fall of 2020.
  • Phased approach to in-person classes.
  • Estrella Mountain Community College, along with other Maricopa Community Colleges, has limited in-person operations. All activities, engagements, campus tours, athletic events, and information seminars are canceled until further notice.

 Grand Canyon University

  • In-person classes will remain at 40-50% capacity. Students will attend class once per week, followed by synchronous online sessions.
  • Hybrid courses, as well as online courses available.
  • Adjusted academic calendar to reduce traveling during the semester.

 You can also learn more from the CDC on how higher education is helping protect students, teachers, and staff this upcoming school year.

 We hope you have a safe and healthy start to the school year!