Colleges Across the Country Close Amid Corona Virus Pandemic


By Lauren Reiser, Junior Editor

An overwhelming majority of universities and colleges across the nation are switching to online learning and closing campuses amid the corona virus outbreak. Infecting more than 130,000 people worldwide since January 2020, the virus has quickly transformed into a pandemic.

The first major university to suspend in-person classes was the University of Washington, where 27 deaths have occurred. According to a list compiled by Georgetown University Scholar Bryan Alexander, at least 200 universities and colleges have closed campus classrooms, including Harvard, NYU, Ohio State, and Syracuse.

While some schools are hoping to resume in-person classes later in the year, others have altogether decided to administer online instruction for the rest of the year. As a result, many college students are being forced to suddenly move out of their campus dorms, which has caused a lot of panic for out-of-state and international students. Additionally, families who pay for their children’s living and dining expenses are likely expecting to see a refund for unused meals and room and board.

Many schools have created plans to pay back these families. Kevin Weinman, the chief financial and administrative officer at Amherst, sent a message to families, saying they will be refunded for room and board “for the time that students are away.”

Erin Kramer, associate vice president for news, communication and media at Duke University, said the university is “planning to reimburse residential students for paid but unused housing and dining fees.”

However, other schools are not making it so easy.

Will Jones, president of Georgetown College in Kentucky wrote, ″[T]he college is not in a financial position to offer any rebates on housing or meal plans for this three-week period (or the remainder of the semester, if we are in a situation that requires us to remain online beyond the next three weeks).”

This unprecedented change raises a lot of concern from current college students.

“I’m mostly really sad that I can’t see my friends for the rest of the school year. I’m nervous about online schooling and I’m upset my internship in China was cancelled. I think while the student body is still not completely informed about what’s going on, Princeton is doing a better job than the other Ivy League schools,” said Wayne Hills alumna Sandy Yang, who is a Sophomore at Princeton University.

Riya Solanky, a Wayne Hills alumna and Freshman at Drexel University is also worried about the switch to online classes.

Although I really wish the schools didn’t have to close, I recognize that it’s an important safety measure. I am upset that my Freshman year has been cut short. I’m a little worried about some of my online classes, however, because I have 3 different lab classes 5 times a week this term. I really hope that switching to online platforms does not affect the quality of education that I receive. Every class I am taking now at Drexel is important for my preparation for future classes and for the MCAT, and I hope that the public health issue plaguing our society does not take a toll on the goals of myself and other students.”  

However, there is a silver lining to remember during this difficult time: college students will still be able to receive the best education possible during this national emergency.

“Personally, it doesn’t really affect me that much since I do a lot of my work on my computer. I think this issue would have affected students way more back in the day when there was no Internet.  I think it affects college students socially more than academically because people aren’t able to hang out with their senior friends for the last time. It would be upsetting if my college graduation was cancelled but I think there are bigger problems in the world right now and you have to keep it all in perspective. It’s not the end of the world and life will go on,” said Wayne Hills alumnus Michael Reiser, who is a Senior at Syracuse University.

The closing of college campuses also impacts both high school juniors and seniors who were planning to visit schools before applying or making their decision.

Numerous Wayne Hills Juniors have had their college tours cancelled due to the national outbreak of the virus.

“Although I understand that it is necessary to cancel tours and classes for colleges, I was really looking forward to my college visits over spring break,” said Junior Noah Kaplan.

“Of course, I wanted to tour Georgetown, ” commented Junior Lydia Yang, “but I completely understand that this national health emergency takes priority and I admire the school for taking the actions it did.”

Junior Asha Madupuru also understands the urgency of the situation, but is still frustrated by its effects. “I think it’s pretty necessary to cancel these visits with the severity of the situation, but it’s also very inconvenient for high school juniors and seniors like me who are trying to find their future college.”

While juniors can reschedule their visits for next year when the virus has calmed down, high school seniors are in a more difficult position.

“I had a visit to Michigan State planned but now it’s cancelled till April 20th. Now I won’t be able to consider the school before the May 1st deadline. I’m pissed,” said Senior Ricky Garcia.

“I had a list of schools I planned on visiting before making my decision but now the campuses are closed, not allowing visitors,” said Senior Dina Faqih. “This really makes my decision harder.”

Other students, such as Senior Ashley Peyser, are unable to attend student acceptance days, which are usually an exciting part of commiting to a university or college. “I was supposed to visit James Madison University for their student acceptance day but it was cancelled. I know a lot of people who didn’t even visit a college they were really interested in and now they can’t.”

Senior Muhaddisa Aldina also had an interview with Ramapo for their honors college that was switched to Skype. “It was somewhat frustrating because it’s easier to talk to people directly than through Skype.”

Senior Katie Bollinger felt that it added to the stress of the college process.

It’s a bummer. . . Not being able to participate in admitted students day, college tours, etc, [causes] you lose the ability to scope out the schools. It’s not [just] about the experience. It’s simply not being able to find the place that you’re meant to be/the school that you’re in love with. However, on the bright side, we’re gonna look back on all this in a few years and have some crazy stories to tell about [our] senior years. The [benefit of] all of this is that people are really coming together to help others and make sure that others don’t get this terrible virus, even if it’s helping in the form of social distancing,” says Senior Katie Bollinger. 

Despite these difficult times, it is important to think positively and remember to stay safe and stay healthy!