Some colleges considering canceling on-site learning until 2021

Isabella Gourley, staff writer

With the rapid growth of COVID-19 cases and concerns, some colleges are considering canceling on-site learning until 2021 to protect the health of staff and students. Harvard, Oregon State, the University of Arizona, and Boston University are some of the many schools that are doing just that.

According to CNN, Boston University has already canceled all “in-person summer activities” on its primary campus. But the school’s coronavirus recovery plan includes protocols should officials deem it not safe to return in-person for the fall semester, and says classes would continue to be held remotely through the fall semester.

“The Recovery Plan recognizes that if, in the unlikely event that public health officials deem it unsafe to open in the fall of 2020, then the University’s contingency plan envisions the need to consider a later in-person return, perhaps in January 2021,” the university said in an online statement.

At Oregon State, school officials are also preparing for their potential extension of closed on-site learning. “Only the novel coronavirus will determine what happens. We can hope for a full return in fall 2020, but hope is not a strategy. So that is why we are going to prepare as best we can for every possible contingency,” said Oregon State University, spokesman Steve Clark.

Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and visiting scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told CNN that the colleges are doing the right thing by planning for the unexpected. “I think colleges should all definitely make plans for delaying start dates and for intermittent closings and reopenings because epidemiology modeling suggests we may have to go into open and close waves until potentially even 2022,” he said.

While colleges are trying to protect the health of its students and staff, this news can be very depressing, especially for students you have lost so much from the current closure of onsite learning. “I think BU is definitely doing the right thing, and throughout this entire process have shown that they care about our well-being more than anything else. The possibility is sad, but I understand that they have to consider all scenarios,” says Nicole Somerstein, a junior at Boston University who is aiming to graduate in May 2021.

Overall, colleges can not control the effects of the coronavirus and are making plans to protect their students and staff, even if it means closing onsite learning until 2021