Twitter reveals unintended consequences of coronavirus shutdown of college campuses

Twitter reveals unintended consequences of coronavirus shutdown of college campuses

Source: Pixabay

Coronavirus poses a particular threat to college campuses. Students often live in close quarters, attend events in crowded lecture halls, and pick their food up in buffet-style dining halls. A single sneeze in a classroom or cafeteria could easily infect dozens of people.

As a result, many universities, including Harvard, are taking the unprecedented step of closing their facilities and moving solely to online lessons. Although this precaution could slow the spread of coronavirus, these changes are made on short notice, giving students and faculty little time to prepare.

Today, we’re turning to Twitter to highlight some of the unintended consequences caused by colleges shutting down in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

1. Not all students have stable homes…

Twitter highlights the consequences of the coronavirus on college campuses 1

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As many users pointed out, not every college student has a stable home to which they can return. One recent study found that housing insecurity impacted 18% of respondents at 2-year colleges, and 14% of respondents at 4-year colleges. For some students, especially FGLI (first-generation and low-income) students, college dorms are their most reliable form of shelter.

2. …and returning home presents its own risks

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Colleges are trying to empty their campuses before the coronavirus starts spreading throughout their community.

But it’s possible that some students are already infected.

Those living with elderly or immunocompromised family members, who are most at risk from coronavirus, risk bringing the disease back to their families. This is especially true for students who will have to travel through airports or public transit centers, potentially coming in contact with the virus while in such dense and highly-trafficked places.

3. International students are trapped in limbo

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International students make up about 5.5% of all college students in the US. Those in the US on student visas may not have the ability to return home. That means that if they lose their housing, they have to scramble to make alternative arrangements. Not all students have the financial means to make that possible.

4. Online courses aren’t always an option

Twitter highlights the consequences of the coronavirus on college campuses 2

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In today’s ultra-connected world, the idea that some students can’t just hop online might seem hard to believe. But the Federal Communications Commission found that 19 million people, or 6.6% of the American population, lack access to speedy broadband internet. That percentage rises to almost 25% in rural areas and 33% on tribal lands.

Many schools lend laptops to students who don’t have their own. Campus libraries are also a vital resource for accessing the internet. Sending students home and moving classes online puts students who don’t have the right technology in a difficult place.

5. Campuses offer vital wellness resources

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Many colleges today require that attendees have insurance. If they don’t, the schools offer their own policies, usually free or discounted for low-income students. No longer being on campus means that students may go home and not have insurance—which could be disastrous if they actually did contract coronavirus.

6. Students on work-study are in a precarious place

Money Cash Dollars

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Many students rely on work-study jobs not just to pay for their classes, but to afford food, support their relatives, and save for the future. Campuses closing down mean that these students are losing income. That means they’ll have to find new jobs that they can balance with their online courses.

7. Colleges aren’t just their students

Trump admin. sent health workers to receive infected Coronavirus patients without protective gear

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Of course, students aren’t the only ones hard at work on college campuses. The custodial teams, dining services, library workers, IT staff, and more all depend on schools staying open. As schools rush to prevent the spread of coronavirus on campus, it remains to be seen in many places how staff will be impacted by these changes.

8. Classes aren’t even cancelled

Twitter highlights the consequences of the coronavirus on college campuses 3

Source: Pixabay

Not all schools that have taken the drastic step of evacuating campus have actually canceled classes in the meantime. This means that students have to balance their coursework with packing, figuring out travel plans, and finding new housing.

The added stress could impact their grades, having a negative effect on transcripts for grad school and on scholarships that require recipients to maintain a certain GPA.

9. A change in learning environments

Angry Emoji Phone

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While the tweet above might be a joke, it makes a good point: being at home is a vastly different environment than being on a college campus. Students will have to deal with distractions that they didn’t have in their dorms or in the library.

10. Rites of passage canceled

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It’s not set in stone, but sending students home means there’s a high chance that classmates won’t be coming together to celebrate commencement. This may not be as life-threatening as some of the consequences listed here, but for students who have worked for years to achieve their degrees, it’s devastating to know that they won’t get to participate in the same ceremonies as all the alumni that went before them.

It’s hard to say if colleges are right to shut down campuses. There’s no denying that coronavirus could spread quickly throughout a population living in such close quarters, endangering students, staff, and other community members.

But it’s equally clear that universities have given those affected by these new decisions little time to prepare. As the consequences roll out in the coming days and weeks, maybe we’ll be able to see if schools that canceled in-person classes did the right thing. Until then, all we can do is keep up with the latest coronavirus news and wait.

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