Universities weigh their options for fall semester; Changes that could come with the new normal for college students

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WEST MONROE, LA. (05/27/2020)– Fall sessions could look a little different for college students and staff this year due to COVID-19. Official say extra safety precautions are in the works.

“We expect fall of 2020 to look decidedly different than Spring of 2020 did, but also decidedly different than Fall of 2019.” Dr. Jim Henderson, President and CEO of University of Louisiana Systems, said.

Henderson said college students could be expected to pack more than their laptop, paper, and pens; masks, hand sanitizers, and wipes could be a part of this year’s essential list.

“We know that we will have social distancing protocols in place, we will have smaller classrooms, you’ll see a lot of students wearing masks,” Henderson said.

Henderson said there are a few options that have been proposed for the fall semester.

Some schools are looking at condensing the semester, to complete it before thanksgiving,” Henderson said. “There are some challenges with that as well because you are going to have students in a more condensed scheduling time in close contact more often.”

Shifting back to online classes after Thanksgiving break is also an option.

“So students don’t go home and come back to the school environment where you lost control there for about a week and possibly doing the rest of the semester online or finals online,” Henderson said.

While these options are on the table, each university will have to choose which one meets the needs of their students and staff.

“I expect over the next 30 days we will know a whole lot more about the virus, we’ll have a lot more detail of what campus will look like in the fall,” Henderson said. “I think it’ll be closer to normal than many people think, but it’s going to be further than normal than any of us would like.”

Henderson said we are just weeks away from knowing what the new normal will be for students, until then they will continue to follow the lead of health experts for the guiding of their response.

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