A few months after I was born, I developed a cough and a low fever. My parents brought me to a pediatrician, who told them it was just a cold and not to worry. Unbeknownst to that doctor, I had contracted respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV is a common virus that infects many newborns without much issue, but in about half a percent of cases, it leads to life-threatening pneumonia and bronchitis. Less than a day after that doctor visit, my face was pale, my breathing was shallow and my fever was well over 101 degrees. By the time my mother arrived at the emergency department, my breathing was a faint, whining wheeze. As she carried me inside, my respiration was so severely inhibited that my chest was collapsing—rather than inflating—every time I drew a breath. I was in such dire condition that, immediately after she ran through the doors, a nurse ripped me from my mother’s arms and started emergency CPR.
In a reversal from previously announced plans, Cornell said that it would no longer provide quarantine housing arrangements for all students living on-campus, Provost Michael Kotlikoff and Vice President of Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi announced on Thursday night. Now, international students and students returning to Ithaca from one of the 34 states on New York’s 14-day quarantine list must either find a place to isolate off-campus or take courses online until their state is removed.
As colleges head toward the remote fall they dreaded, they must deliver a more compelling learning experience than last spring’s. Most think it will be better, but it may not give students what they crave. Whether they like it or not — most of them don’t, and some of them are still insisting it’s not the case — I’m convinced that the vast majority of American colleges and universities are headed toward a mostly or entirely virtual fall. Those that don’t start out that way will, as they did in the spring, have to pivot. COVID-19 will almost certainly demand it.
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With much uncertainly on the university campus, students are unsure if they will have to pause midstream this Autumn, leave campus and go online again. They also fear falling ill from the virus as the incidents of large gatherings in State College will increase along with day-to-day social contact with others. Furthermore, students are unsure if their “face-to-face teaching” professors will stick with the teaching through the coming year, or even turn up for it in the first place. For these reasons, many students are considering taking gap years (leave of absences or LoAs) for a year or even longer. However, unlike in usual times where a gap year could entail travel (in the flesh), cultural immersion, jobs, internships, and volunteer service opportunities, today’s gap year choices are extremely limited, leaving students in limbo. The Covid-19 crisis has changed the international landscape for gap / LoA year opportunities drastically.
Penn State wrote a letter to the university’s Greek life community Friday encouraging it to respect public health guidelines as students return to campus this fall. The letter, penned by Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims, warned fraternities and sororities that “anything less than true commitment to the public health demands” laid out by Penn State will be a “disservice to our friends, our families, our community, and our University.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued new guidance today saying new international students — unlike current international students — will not be able to travel to the U.S. to take an entirely online course of study. The guidance states that students will not be penalized, however, if their institutions switch from in-person or hybrid to online mode midterm due to the pandemic.
Harvard University and the University of Southern California have advised new international students not to come to campus this fall, saying they will not be allowed to enter the U.S. to participate in remote instruction. Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued earlier this month to block a directive from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would have required international students to take at least some of their coursework in person in order to remain in the U.S. But while ICE rescinded that directive in response to the Harvard/MIT suit, the net result — a reversion to policy guidance issued in March that gave international students relief from normal regulatory requirements limiting them to one online class at a time — did not provide relief to new international students, who were not covered by the March guidance.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, unemployment hit a record 14.7 percent in the U.S. as mass layoffs took place and companies reduced hiring. A portion of this affected population includes students who are working their way through college. About 11 million college students in the U.S. are employed while in college, with 75 percent working over 20 hours a week, according to studies from the National Center of Educational Statistics. Moriah Adeghe ’21 had to leave her job at Cornell’s Flora Rose House Office. But her leave came with benefits, as Student and Campus Life compensated her based on her average weekly hours.
A growing number of colleges of various types from across the country say worsening public health conditions are forcing them to teach their fall terms entirely remotely. Three private, historically Black colleges in Atlanta announced Monday they are planning for an all-virtual fall as coronavirus cases rise in Georgia and across the U.S.