What Students Need to Know About COVID-19 Risk on Campus

Jamie Wilger Alerts, News

Students should ask many questions of their colleges before making any commitments or plans to be on campus this fall. As of now, there are no regulatory agencies or specific rules on which students can rely, and that makes questioning all the more important. This is critical, as is pointed out in a recent memo, Risks to Students in Post-COVID Higher Ed: “And all schools are going to try everything they can to keep their enrollments from cratering—including reopening regardless of whether it is truly safe to do so—which will often mean that a school’s best interest is at odds with its students’ best interests.”

Colleges are trying to decide if, and how, they can open safely. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education, recommending actions for colleges to consider. At The Scholarship Foundation, the only relevant consideration is students’ wellbeing: academically and financially, as well physically and emotionally.

Implementing the CDC recommendations is no small task. Students can and should ask their schools the following questions:

  • How is the college planning to reduce risk to students, faculty, and staff?
  • What strategies, including the use of face masks, may be required? In what spaces and under what circumstances? Will exemptions be made?
  • What are the school’s plans and procedures if a member of the school community tests positive?
    • Is there sufficient testing and contact tracing planned to ensure those exposed will be informed?
    • Will quarantine be required and how will the school accommodate students for the duration of any required quarantine?
    • What healthcare will be available to students who become ill or may have been exposed?
  • Under what circumstances would the school close and send students home?

Students need to consider their own risk tolerance. For many students, there may also be concern for a loved one who is at greater risk should they be exposed to COVID-19. Furthermore, schools should be expected to support a community imperative to reduce the spread and maintain health. Do not commit to physically attend a school unless you can determine they are taking this responsibility for your safety and the wellbeing of the community very seriously.

Read the full CDC Guidelines here.

Did you miss our first advisory? Read more about our Advising Discussion Guide.

It is not too late to sign up for our Higher Education COVID-19 Alerts, which are real-time advisories. If you would like to sign up to receive these advisories in your email, please subscribe here.

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