You feel ready. You’ve developed a comprehensive reopening strategy that that includes entry tests and surveys, temperature checking stations, social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines, safe conduct pledges, and you’ve even lowered the density of students in dorms/accommodations and dining halls.
But then it happens. Your university opens, the students return, and everything changes…fast. Despite all your plans, imagine having over 500 students test positive for COVID-19 within the first one to two weeks of the new school term. While it may sound far-fetched, it has already happened at over twenty different universities in the U.S. including the University of Maryland which has over 2,500 COVID+ students, the University of Tennessee that has over 2,100 in quarantine and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill which closed its on-campus housing and sent students home.
When thousands of students suddenly descend on your campus from all over the world, many believe it’s not a question of if, but when your university experiences one or more COVID-19 outbreaks. As of early September, nearly 88,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported at US universities as students return to campus.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for universities. To most institutions, completely shutting down campus risks the possibility of forfeiting millions in lost revenue i.e. tuition, athletic events, conferences, and research grant opportunities. Equally important is the sub-par student experience and the potential damage to an organization’s brand and reputation, including future hits to student retention and recruiting.
To be proactive, most universities have adopted a hybrid or blended learning program in which students attend virtual classes remotely but also attend certain classes or labs on select days on a limited basis. And while you may believe students will be fine in this remote learning environment, the reality is it comes with its own set of challenges when it comes to looking after the safety and wellbeing of students. This article explores the challenges associated with caring for the safety and wellbeing of your university community in a hybrid or blended learning. We’ll also describe how the uniquely adaptable SafeZone service can help you address these challenges head on.