With a COVID-19 vaccine looking unlikely by September, universities and schools across the country must decide what to do about classes. Currently, a third of universities have still not made official decision about reopening. Over half have chosen a hybrid model, filling classrooms to 40% capacity, implementing social distance guidelines, and keeping some classes online. Meanwhile, about 7% of schools have decided to open up all in-person classes, and 7% of schools will remain completely digital.
Are virtual classes really the same?
There are, of course, many other short and long-term factors that schools must take into account. One of the primary questions that families are asking is whether there will be reduced tuition.
After all, if a student is not benefiting from the on-campus experience, should they really have to pay campus rates? Harvard seems to think so. America’s most prestigious university has made no changes to its tuition, so students taking classes online will still need to shell out a little over $47,000. Meanwhile, Princeton students will receive just a 10% discount for online instruction.
Then there’s the question of how effective is online schooling? This era will produce an entire generation of students who missed a full year of in-person learning. Many are left wondering what the long-term social consequences will be?
Finally, there’s the question of international students. Scholars who travel to the US from abroad contribute a huge amount of tuition to colleges, private schools, and boarding schools. And while many Americans have access to scholarships and financial aid, international students often pay in full. But with travel restrictions still in place, some fear that a lack of international tuition could wreak havoc on private education.
Main Street economies in college towns will surely suffer as well. The restaurants, bars, and bookstores usually patronized by students may go without customers in the coming year. Landlords who control student housing will also face some rough times.
One Day At a Time
Unfortunately, there are still far more questions than answers. Right now, schools, like much of the rest of society, are simply scrambling to find a band-aid for the many problems that the pandemic has caused.