In March, when the novel coronavirus was spreading at a rapid rate, most universities moved their classes entirely to “distance learning.” This was part of a massive, concerted effort to halt the spread of the COVID-19 causing coronavirus. By most measures, these aggressive moves seem to have reduced the impact of the disease.
However, they have not come without cost. Students of numerous universities across the US, and abroad, have grown frustrated with the quality of their online courses. Many feel as though they are getting a sub-standard education despite paying full tuition. These students are largely resistant to calls that many universities will skip the Fall 2020 semester as well.
Many universities seem to be exercising extreme caution in their handling of the pandemic. They are largely hesitant to commit to in-person courses even in fall of this year. Many are following the advice of select experts who believe things won’t go back to normal until a vaccine for the illness is created.
This could take as long as two years. Creating a vaccine for a novel disease is a time-consuming and complex process. As such, universities seem prepared to commit to pandemic measures for the long haul. This means moving all coursework online for the foreseeable future. A large contingent of students, however, are balking at the idea.
Many students have voiced their displeasure with distance learning online and to reporters. Many feel as though they don’t get the same attention from professors when they’re interacting through a screen. Others have noted that it’s harder to focus and become immersed in the work when they’re not present on campus.
Whether they’re in an accounting program, theater courses or political science, students are growing frustrated.
This has led to some students proclaiming that they’ll be skipping the Fall semester entirely if universities stick to distance learning. This has the attention of many boards of directors and admissions offices. Colleges are dependent on a constant stream of tuition to keep the lights on and to keep faculty and staff paid.
If an entire semester sees a reduction of as little as thirty percent of students, it would be catastrophic for most universities. Should students reject distance learning altogether, universities may be forced to make hard decisions.
This reflects the tensions playing out between government lockdown efforts and frustrated citizens in the country at large. Many citizens, eager to return to normal life, have begun protesting lockdown measures. These protestors feel as though social distancing has run its course, and that it’s time to return to normal.