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Posted Date August 30, 2020
Has Coronavirus forever changed the international college experience?
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will transform how educational institutions will function for the foreseeable future. This will include a complete overhaul of the existing college infrastructure and knowledge delivery systems.
Prepare for compulsory Self-Isolation.
Educational institutions like Vanderbilt University, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, University of Alberta and many others are offering isolation accommodation programs that are designed to provide assistance and economically feasible housing options to help students coming in from international travel to satisfy the 14-day self-isolation screening criteria.
These assistance programs and mandatory safety regulations change based on the geographic location of the educational institution and local community policies, rules and regulations. These accommodation and mandatory isolation programs are being used as a safety buffer before the students’ transition into low density on-campus dorms.
“Goodbye” to shared spaces, group activities and exercises.
Keeping in line with the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020, April 30) to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many educational institutions in addition to complying with local safety laws, rules and regulations, are also taking up the following measures:
Reduction in the density of students in classrooms, residence halls and dining areas and in some cases, the complete closure of any shared spaces like lounges and study rooms.
Use of a staggered or rotating class schedule to allow for the least number of students and college faculty to be present at any given point.
Inter-collegiate tournaments for high risk contact sports like football have been put on hold along with the suspension of any practices and drills. This also means that students who are passionate about collegiate sports like lacrosse, baseball, football and so on will no longer get to witness them live. Along with inter-collegiate tournaments, intramural tournaments will also be cancelled for the foreseeable future.
Libraries, labs and other integral parts of the college experience will be now carried out in a more controlled environment wherein the number of participants will be less, distancing protocols will be followed and hands-ongroup experiments will be done away with; although some colleges that are currently shut are considering virtual laboratory simulations as a temporary replacement. (Millward, 2020, April 15)
Cultural events that are usually hosted by international student service organizations will also be effectively cancelled for the foreseeable future; this is part of the wider ban on all large social gatherings including club meetings, parties, rush events for fraternities and sororities.
Virtual Study Abroad? : One of the added perks of studying in a college abroad is that these colleges often have study exchange programs with educational institutions all over the world. However, given the pandemic outbreak, international travel is being discouraged by governmental authorities and as a result, most study abroad programs have either been cancelled or may potentially go completely virtual as the curriculum from these colleges abroad will be delivered remotely which pretty much defeats the purpose of studying abroad.
Recently, just within a week after conducting in-person classes, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported about 130 coronavirus cases (Usatoday 2020, August 17). This spike in cases was due to a cluster of outbreaks in student living spaces and because of this UNC has shifted to remote delivery.
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