Before the President announced on 6th July that he was partially reopening the economy, all everyone wanted was for life to go back to normal. However, after the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent days, everyone is now questioning if that was the right decision to make. Every college student is now looking forward to September when colleges will report and a sense of “normalcy return. Sadly, it might not be the reality on campuses due to COVID-19 and a socially distanced semester. For those students who are planning on going back to campus, there are tons of questions that need answering. Here are just a few of the many concerns that are top of mind for freshmen to seniors alike.
1. What kind of experience can I expect going back to campus?
Every student wants a normal campus experience but the worry that things are going to get worse regarding COVID-19 can’t be wished away. Many students have no option but to return to campus in order to continue with their learning. However, a “normal college experience” will not be the case. Everyone has to be extremely careful and follow all the standards and protocols that their school will put in place come September. One of the areas that won’t probably be the same include some of the most exciting campus traditions like sporting events and beauty pageants and other campus-wide parties.
2. What about the Elderly Lecturers?
Kenya is one country where employment opportunities are skewed towards the elderly. Many professors who lecture at the university are well above 57 years. They are therefore considered to be at a higher risk of contracting and even succumbing to the virus. Students are concerned about how their return to campus would affect such lecturers.
“Most of our lecturers are above 58 years old” says Angela Dianga, a final year student at Egerton University. The Bachelor of Education Science , Biology and Chemistry student adds that “opening school in September will put such lecturers at high risk.” This is an area that the government and individual universities must look into before September.
3. What will it be like to live with other students?
Considering the high cost of renting around campus, most students prefer staying in university hostels where they often share a room. This means that come September, such students will be surrounded by hundreds of other people. This is a tricky situation in a world where social distancing is stressed as a way to combat the virus.
Campus hostels are usually a hot spot for disease, especially during flu seasons, because students share bathrooms, showers, rooms, food, and more. “Almost every person I know in college has gotten sick at least once during their first semester of college” says Lorna Wangechi, a third year student at Kenyatta University. Still, few schools have fully outlined plans that will prevent the spread of the virus in this kind of living environment. “What will it be like sharing rooms with other students without being certain of their health status?” she queries.
4. How do I know if my university is safe to return to?
Kenyan universities are usually crowded with students, and as such, many are worried that their peers will not cover their faces on campus and in classrooms. It’s a legitimate fear! How can we feel safe returning to campus if we can’t trust our peers to protect themselves and others?
” Going back to campus this September will put most of our students life in danger since university is the most crowded place with lots of students” says Angela. Furthermore, many schools are yet to detail what will happen if someone on campus becomes sick with the virus.
5. How will exams be taken with social distancing rules?
Many universities have common courses that are usually attended by over 300 students every semester. During exams, such courses are usually assigned several rooms to ensure everyone sits for the exam. Considering that many of these universities have not yet adopted online learning, students are concerned about how they would take such classes and exams.
6. How will social life be like on campus?
Even though we all know that classes and academics are the most important aspect of college, social life is arguably just as big a factor for many students. College is where you meet new people, make new friends, try new things, and explore new places. Also, many students get valuable experience in their chosen field through extracurriculars and networking.
It’s hard to imagine a campus without these new experiences, and students are worried that it will be difficult to maintain relationships while also following appropriate safety precautions. Campus events and student groups are also a concern. Many people are involved in groups and clubs that require in-person meetings and interactive activities — but how will they meet if social gatherings are limited?