College campuses across the country have announced plans to resume in-person learning, ensuring students that they are taking the necessary precautions to keep them safe. While their motives are well intentioned, and aspirations towards minimizing student exposure commendable, most medical experts agree that a second wave of COVID-19 is coming, and we need to be prepared.
“Yeah, I’m concerned,” said Joshua Berest*, a soon-to-be Sophomore at Southern Methodist University. “We literally came back from spring break and had to pack our stuff up and move. I don’t exactly live close, so it was quite the logistical nightmare.” Josh ended up renting a self storage unit in Dallas along with his roommate, Frank, and moved in with Frank’s family for a time being since there were travel restrictions. “My parents live in Michigan. What if this happens again? I mean, they allowed some students to stay – but I didn’t think that would be best.”
With so much uncertainty, some campuses that have announced they will continue to hold most courses online through the fall. California State University said that their school, “…when open without restrictions and fully in person, as is the traditional norm of the past, is a place where over 500,000 people come together in close and vibrant proximity with each other on a daily basis…That approach, sadly, just isn’t in the cards now…” The college experience just wouldn’t be the same with distancing measures, which is why they, along with countless others, have decided to forgo a full reopening.
If your campus is reopening next semester, and you plan on heading back, here are 3 things you should do:
1.) Discuss remote learning options with your university beforehand.
Should you become ill, find out what your school’s grading policies and remote learning capabilities are. Will the campus accommodate you should you need to take a few weeks off to tend to your health or the health of a loved one? Also, what measures are in place should your roommate fall ill? Are there additional dorm rooms available for students to use for quarantine? If your school is not putting the necessary protocol in place, you may want to consider transferring to a college that is.
2.) Rent a self-storage unit before the semester begins.
Off-site storage facilities have always served as an excellent resource for college students, since they help maximize dorm room space and also limit the hassle of having to move items back and forth to home. Since COVID-19 is expected to flare up again this fall, having a self storage unit already rented and ready to go if campuses do indeed close again will prove worthwhile. Consider going in on one with your roommate, so that you can move at a moment’s notice if things change.
3.) Have a travel plan, and a backup living arrangement.
Some students, such as Josh, did not live close to campus, and with travel bans in place, had a challenging time getting home. Besides noting various travel methods you can use to make the trip back (such as bus depots, trains, flights, etc.), ask a friend who lives close by if their family would mind hosting you in the event of another shelter-in-place order.
Remember, it is important that we all continue to do our part even though businesses are beginning to reopen and schools may resume. Social and physical distancing are vital to preventing the continued spread of COVID-19.
Whether you are learning from home or at school, you and your peers are entering a world where innovation is key. Take what you learn and create the “new normal” for generations to come. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding.”
Wishing you all the best this semester and beyond!
*Name has been changed per student request.