Our Insights Into COVID-19
Updated: Jul 24, 2020
With the fall semester rapidly approaching, institutions nationwide brace for impact by jumpstarting semesters. But what will happen between now and then?
You may find yourself lost within the dizzying array of factors contributing to how the remainder of 2020 will pan out for K-12 and colleges and universities across the United States. With no definitive direction being set as to where the country stands, and where it will stand in the months (and years) to come, institutions across the country have been forced to develop COVID-19 programs ad hoc, fancying hybridized delivery methods to cope with meeting student demand while simultaneously accounting for the unknown.
“Removing the countless interactions and communications that take place on K-12 and college campuses each day removes the engine driving their progress. Simultaneously, failing to remove this engine when it is susceptible to long-term breakdown risks damaging it beyond repair.”
Surely K-12 and colleges and universities with the equity and means to sustain dips in enrollment, fund new online instructional delivery programs and furlough staff will emerge from the pandemic relatively unscathed. But what about the thousands of institutions for which economic, financial, social, and intellectual capital has been significantly damaged as a result of the pandemic? These factors have yet to be fully examined due to the ongoing nature of the virus. Only after educational institutions return to some sense of normalcy will this information be measured.
Risk vs. Reward
Furthermore, it is often said that without risk there is no reward. And while risk permeates across colleges and universities on a daily basis, and in various forms, institutions cannot afford to take ill-advised chances when it comes to student, faculty, and staff health/well-being. On the other hand, proponents for returning to in-person instruction advocate that removing the countless interactions and communications that take place on K-12 and college campuses each day removes the engine driving their progress. Simultaneously, failing to remove this engine when it is susceptible to long-term breakdown risks damaging it beyond repair. So, how do colleges and universities mitigate this dichotomy?
Leverage all forms of institutional capital
Whether intellectual, financial, or sociological, institutions of education serve as epicenters for knowledge. Those that can leverage this knowledge will be better prepared for offsetting the effects of COVID-19, adding clarity among the ambiguity.
If possible, focus on delivering robust online services
The Coronavirus illustrated great demand for online education. While a pandemic help shed light on how useful this method of delivery may be during times of crises, K-12 and colleges and universities should use this time to develop off-campus methods of instruction to better prepare and remain proactive for the next crisis.
As with everything, COVID-19 will pass. Though the impacts of the virus have yet to be fully understood, history has proven that time heals the wounds felt across many campuses. Whether the Revolutionary, Civil, or World Wars, a financial crisis, or a global pandemic, institutions of education will return to normal through dedication and persistence. Institutional leadership can seldom afford to take a day off. Now is their time to shine.
Listed below, is a broad guideline relating to how K-12 and higher education leadership should address possible cases of COVID-19 within their environment. Information on the CDC guidelines for colleges and universities can be found here.