LONAS: Can colleges counter the coronavirus on campus?

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Thursday, July 30, 2020


Coronavirus guidelines won’t keep college campuses safe. It’s time for universities to move classes online for the fall semester. 

At the beginning of this summer, I expected colleges across the country to come up with a plan that focused on student safety and alleviated our stress. Instead, universities released untenable plans that added even more stress to their students’ lives.  

A common proposal among universities’ coronavirus plans is having students only stay on campus until Thanksgiving break. The rest of the semester, including finals, would be online. Some schools are only allowing one student per dorm and closing off common areas. Others would expect masks to be worn to class. All of these precautions are ineffective.

I understand the idea that schools want to avoid students flying around the country over Thanksgiving break and bringing the virus back to school. However, this does not take into account commuters like myself or those who go home every weekend. Although it may not be as far as a student flying across the country, you can’t stop students from leaving campus. 

Furthermore, to expect no school across the country to have a coronavirus case before Thanksgiving break is foolish. Cases are already starting to go up in 39 states.  If a school finds out someone has the virus, the college will likely shut down for the semester and send students home.

Other precautions such as masks and one student per dorm will ruin the social aspect of college and take away networking opportunities. In-person networking and other school events will be cancelled or moved online. Students will lose events that would have kept them occupied and will have the opportunity to make worse decisions with their free time. 

Realistically, not every college student will take this virus seriously. Many will hang out in dorms or study together. Even worse, parties are inevitable—both on and off campus—creating a hotspot for breakouts. Fourth of July celebrations and protests during a spike in coronavirus cases show us that COVID-19 isn’t being taken seriously anymore. College students will likely have the same attitude, if not worse.  

Another attempt by colleges to combat the virus is to have some classes online and some in-person. My campus is offering “hybrid” classes where some days my class will be held online and other days it will be held in-person. This is not only more confusing for students and harder to keep track of, but, again, does not negate the fact that students will still meet up after classes or go out together. 

A coronavirus outbreak on a college campus is not only concerning for the students but also for the faculty. It’s a well-known fact that older COVID-19 patients are far more at risk of death. Keeping in-person classes could endanger the health of older professors or those with underlying health conditions. 

I have friends who are taking a semester off because of this virus. The cost of driving/flying to campus, paying for an apartment they might not need, and paying the cost to transport all their belongings isn’t worth it. Others believe it is unjustifiable paying the full price of tuition to go to school when all their classes will be online. More money will be lost by being forced onto campus and paying for an apartment for a school that is likely to shut down three weeks into the semester. 

While some can not afford to take a gap year, but a person who couldn’t afford to take a gap year could save more money by schools going online now. Those who would stay home could keep their summer job or not have to pay rent if they live at home. Even those who would still have to pay for an apartment, food, and other utilities would save gas money and would not have to be as concerned about a doctor’s bill due to COVID-19. 

I graduate this fall. The last time I was on campus was the day before spring break — and it should stay that way. 

Lexi Lonas is a student reporter with The College Fix and a columnist for Lone Conservative. This summer she will be interning with The Washington Examiner and be a Fellow for Heritage’s program, The Academy. Previously, Lexi has interned at The Daily Caller and her work has also been seen in The Daily Signal. She will be graduating this fall from Penn State Altoona.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Lexi Lonas

Pennsylvania State University of Altoona

Lexi Lonas is a student reporter with The College Fix and a columnist for Lone Conservative. This summer she will be interning with The Washington Examiner and be a Fellow for Heritage’s program, The Academy. Previously, Lexi has interned at The Daily Caller and her work has also been seen in The Daily Signal. She will be graduating this fall from Penn State Altoona.

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