COVID-19 and Higher Ed: Preparing for the Fall Semester

Jul 16, 2020

Back to Veoci BlogCOVID-19 and Higher Ed: Preparing for the Fall Semester

The COVID-19 pandemic was and is nothing any one person or institution could have prepared for, including colleges and universities. Despite thorough emergency and continuity planning and responses, the fall semester is still up in the air. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is extremely infectious, and puts immense pressure on higher education institutions to find a safe approach for educating students in the fall. 

Some schools have already started exploring the idea, and have come up with a few key points and ideas to consider or include in a return-to-school plan.

Criteria for Resuming Classes

Colleges and universities need to consider basic criteria as they begin approaching how their institutions will resume classes in the fall. They’re more basic questions, ones we’ve all become accustomed to:

  • Can the school’s facilities, buildings, and other parts of campus enable students, faculty, and staff to practice social distancing?
  • Can the school provide PPE to its employees working in more public spaces, such as dining halls?
  • Is re-opening for physical classes within local, state, or federal guidelines or laws?

Once a college or university answers these questions, it’s staff can start looking at other processes and items their university will need to implement to ensure the safety of its stakeholders.

Contact tracing has already proven to be one of the most effective actions we can take in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Universities and colleges will need to have something in place to perform this function. Preventing infections is the only way they can begin to run physically-held classes. 

Some schools may want to consider partnering with their local or state health departments to get contact tracing working on campus. These agencies may be able to provide guidance or resources that will greatly simplify and streamline the implementation of a program, a key factor given how close the start of the academic year is.

Limiting Students on Campus

Another strategy that’s being coupled with the ones listed above is a staggered return.

Some institutions have recognized that having multiple schools presents them with the opportunity to systematically stagger their returns. Larger universities with medical, law, and graduate schools can have those students return before undergraduates.

A hybrid return is also possible. Universities and colleges can start to identify students that may need to be on campus to finish their studies; students that need laboratories and need complex equipment to continue their education may be allowed to live on campus in order to provide them access to necessary resources. 

If schools opt to resume athletics in the fall, these groups can also live on campus. Capping the amount of students on campus this way also bakes social distancing and quarantining capabilities into areas like dormitories.

Policies, Communication, and Administration 

Returning to campus will be an involved effort, and rely on the cooperation of all a university’s or college’s stakeholders, including students, administrations, staff, and employees.

Schools can implement policies that help ensure people comply with proven methods of limiting the spread of pathogens. Strong communication will need to couple with these policies so all stakeholders are aware of these administrative decisions.

Policies universities and colleges can consider are:

  • Compulsory mask wearing
  • Self-quarantining after traveling or possible exposure
  • Limited group or gathering sizes
  • Shutting down non-essential public spaces

Additionally, Schools may also want to consider having students finish their semester virtually following the Thanksgiving break at the end of November. This will prevent students from bringing the virus from their hometowns.

Preparing for the Fall Semester

To bring students back to campus, colleges and universities have to take a particular set of measures. As the start of the Fall 2020 semester nears, schools can look to their peers for examples and guidance. Every person and organization plays an active role in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and these are some of the steps higher education institutions can take.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Subscribe to the Veoci Blog

Receive all the latest emergency, crisis, and continuity management news, tips, and advice

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Related Posts

Exploring the American Rescue Plan Act

While ARPA doesn't spell how citizens must spend their stimulus funds, it does provide strict guidelines for the local and state governments receiving benefits from the bill. These spending guidelines are meant to push local and state governments to put the funds back into their community, either directly or through the purchase of tools that make servicing their respective communities simpler and more efficient.

Continue reading
The Lasting Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Healthcare Industry

Even after the pandemic is over, it is likely that the healthcare industry will see lasting effects from the challenges its institutions have had to overcome. The financial burden, PPE shortages, and telemedicine are just a few of the changes we can expect to see lingering in the healthcare industry.

Continue reading
COVID-19: Making Return-to-Work Smooth for Workers

As more and more organizations make the transition back to a physical workplace, there are many factors to consider to maintain the health and safety of employees. Fortunately, there are some steps workers can take to mentally and physically ease the transition back to work.

Continue reading

Connect with us on Social Media

Join us on our journey to improve emergency, operations, and continuity management!

Veoci Facebook PageVeoci Twitter AccountVeoci Linkedin Company Page

Face crisis and continuity challenges with expert solutions designed for you and your teams.

Schedule a Demo Now
ISO 27001 Certified Badge