The outbreak of a pandemic due to the notorious coronavirus, the official name of the disease being COVID-19, has shaken the world to its very core. As the virus continues to spread at an alarming rate, many colleges and universities across the globe have taken drastic measures to curb the transmission of the disease. Given below are a few methods educational institutions have adopted in order to handle the pandemic.
1. Cancelled Classes
Globally, the first course of action by colleges and universities was to cancel all in-person classes to ensure the safety and well-being of its students and staff. The enforcement of social-distancing and self-isolation has been made possible by replacing face-to-face teaching with video lectures and online seminars.
For most students, the adjustment has been challenging as they are used to the traditional way institutions operate. For them, it is a matter of figuring out how to cope with it and get used to it, since the possibility of cancelled classes can be long-term given the virus has continued to spread rapidly.
2. Online Classes
Numerous universities around the world have opted to suspend in-person classes in favour of online lectures. For instance, in some universities in the US, in-person lessons have been replaced with Skype/Zoom conference calls, recorded lectures and teachers’ transcripts.
In the UK, moving to online learning has been a challenging transition for most students and the pressure on digital systems is evident. The general consensus amongst students is that despite not preferring online means to conduct classes, it is essential to do so if they wish to reduce the spread and impact of the virus.
3. Sending Students Back Home
Universities and colleges across the globe have resorted to some extreme measures to inhibit the spread of the highly contagious disease by asking students to move out of campus accommodations. American universities such as Harvard and Amherst have gone as far as giving its students a mere five days’ notice to vacate their rooms.
Furthermore, students were also asked not to return after spring break. As a result, many students shared the same sentiments of being shocked, confused and distressed. However, students were relieved to hear that some universities may offer to pay for those who need financial support to get home.
On the other hand, the approach of Canadian universities has been more flexible as they have asked all students aside from international ones or those with “exceptional circumstances” to fully vacate their accommodation. As for, universities and colleges in the UK, they stressed that their campuses and student halls would remain open.
Their concern about vacating on-campus students was that most are international students who would have nowhere to go. Furthermore, some universities said they’d provide free accommodation for international students who were stranded, even if the government told them to shut down.
4. Online/Cancelled Exams
With the prediction that the outbreak may peak during exam season, most universities abroad are considering timed online exams. For instance, some universities are thinking of conducting remote proctored online examinations.
This would mean having someone watch a student through a webcam while they do an exam in a secure browser.” However, some students have appealed for exams to be cancelled altogether given the pandemic has resulted in widespread distress amongst the student population.
Their concern is that moving exams online would put entire groups of students at a huge disadvantage and possibly lead to distorted and inaccurate results. Therefore, cancelling exams would be the only way to guarantee the integrity of international degrees and not harm the mental and physical health of students.