Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: How the Coronavirus is Affecting Colleges

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Naturally, I felt inclined to write about the infamous COVID-19 virus this week. In the past two or so weeks, all of my email inboxes have been papered with warnings and information about this unforeseen catastrophe, and how I, a student at a small, private university, can keep myself safe.

Living on the outskirts of Boston and attending college here, I have been able to see firsthand the potentially disastrous implications COVID-19 has plastered onto the city. The public transit is almost empty, the streets are alarmingly quiet, and the general atmosphere of my environment is a mixture of edginess and excitement. As potentially scary as a pandemic is, it is a fascinating time to be alive, wondering what will happen next as you scroll through your email and eye the alerts.

As of writing this, my school has not announced or hinted at a decision to close its doors and move online. If I had to pick a plausible outcome, I would say my university will probably extend spring break by a week or so, but probably not more than that.

(3/16 Update: Our spring break is extended by an additional week and all of our classes are now online. Students are still allowed to stay in the resident halls if they wish.) 

The risk is still relatively low for my area, and no one on my campus has tested positive for the virus. Here are all the ways the school closing down would affect students such as myself:

-Although this does not apply to me particularly, international students would be effectively screwed if my university decided to shut its doors. I know of several international students who have no other options at this point in time, especially on such short notice. 

-Students who rely on public transit, such as myself, would have a difficult time getting to our internships in Boston if we were asked to leave campus and resume classes online. Because I do marketing and social media work, I would probably be able to manage my internship online, but not everyone has that opportunity. 

-My university is well-known for its applied arts and fashion program, which basically exclusively requires students to stay on campus to utilize the materials and sewing machines. How can fashion students resume their work and build their collections online?

-Would I be refunded for room and board? Meal plans? Senior week payments?

These are just a few of the thoughts going through my head right now. As you can probably infer from the title of this article, however, I’m trying not to worry too much about these potential changes. I’m looking forward to posting an update on this situation down the line, as I believe my college is going to make a final announcement about the new course of action over the next couple of days. As I said, I believe the most extreme choice my college would choose to make would be to extend spring break by another week or two, due to the disruptive nature and implications of basically canceling the semester.

Of course, if the pandemic did reach a point where staying on campus would be an overwhelming safety concern, of course, I would be receptive to taking online courses for the rest of the semester. It would be inconvenient, of course, and a pretty meager ending to my senior year of college, but there isn’t really much I can do to control the situation. 

For the time being, remember to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, avoid large crowds, and cover your mouth when you cough! How is the coronavirus outbreak affecting your lifestyle? Let us know in the comments below.

Published by

Sarah Desroche

I am a twenty-two year-old college grad based in the Boston area. As a Digital Media + Social Justice major, spreading inspiration and positivity is extremely important to me. When I'm not reading, writing, or blogging, I enjoy cooking delicious vegetarian meals and binge-watching crime shows on Netflix. Thanks for stopping by!

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