Personal Finance

On campus but under lockdown — a day in the life of a college student during Covid-19

Key Points
  • With cases of coronavirus rising across the country, most of the schools that plan to have some in-person instruction this fall are implementing strict safety measures.
  • For students heading back to campus, the college experience will be drastically different.
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For college students heading back to campus this month, life will be decidedly different.

For example, at Middlebury College in Vermont, the school's 2,500 undergraduates are required to quarantine for two weeks before returning to school and get tested immediately upon arrival.

After their Covid-19 test, they can move into their dorm room but must remain there until the test results are in. Meals are delivered and students are only allowed to leave their room to use the bathroom.

Once they're cleared, they can move around campus but must remain at school at all times. Hikes through the Champlain Valley, trips to town and visits with parents or friends are all prohibited

The pros definitely outweigh the cons.
Lydia Erdman
sophomore at middlebury

"The pros definitely outweigh the cons," said Lydia Erdman, 21, a rising sophomore. "It's important to be around peers," she added.

"In the spring, when we were sent home, not being able to be around college students was pretty detrimental."

Erdman, who is also on Middlebury's women's crew team, will continue rowing, as well. But she'll be in a single or double shell instead of an eight-person one, and the team will just be practicing, rather than competing, on Lake Dunmore for now.

Lydia Erdman is a rising sophomore at Middlebury college in Vermont
Source: Lydia Erdman

However, Erdman and her classmates also know that even these circumstances could change quickly. If underclassmen get sick, it's back to distance learning.

"Students are definitely worried about school closing," Erdman said.

"I'm pretty confident," she added of Middlebury's approach. "I think it could be really safe as long as no one tests positive."

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The common consensus is that students are eager to get back in the classroom; however, they are also anxious about in-person learning and what safety measures will be in place this fall.

As of a recent tally, 87% of institutions plan to combine in-person and virtual learning in the fall, according to a report by the Institute of International Education that was based on data collected in July from more than 500 colleges and universities in the U.S. 

With cases of coronavirus rising across the country, most of the colleges that plan to have some form of in-person instruction during the fall semester are implementing strict safety measures, the Institute found. Those steps include making masks mandatory, restricting social events and postponing all study abroad programs indefinitely.

"It'll be difficult," Erdman said. "But just being at school, it's still going to be worthwhile."

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