Colleges and universities are looking to get a jump-start on the Fall 2020 semester by starting school earlier than usual and ending classes about a month sooner. Schools like Notre Dame, the University of North Carolina and Rice University have announced that they will have shortened fall semesters in an attempt to avoid a “second wave” of COVID-19 infection that many predict will arrive during the typical flu season.
Along with testing, social distancing, and mask-wearing, schools adopting this early start plan hope that by eliminating a fall break and having students go home at Thanksgiving, they will reduce the risk of students encountering the virus while on vacation and spreading it around when they return to campus. Some schools will end the semester once students go home in November, while others will continue with online classes and virtually-proctored finals.
While it’s currently unknown how starting and ending the fall semester early will impact the potential for students to bring the coronavirus to school, researchers have discovered how easily the virus can spread at campus. According to one working paper, all it would take is one unquarantined student who acquired coronavirus from an off-campus contact to spread the infection to every susceptible individual by the end of the semester. Enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing, moving large classes online and having small classes in larger rooms, and performing regular and random testing can help lower the percentage of infected individuals to 66%. Colleges are weighing more significant changes, like cohort living and app screening, which could reduce the spread of the disease even further.
More and more schools are making their plans for the fall semester known. Finalize your fall semester plans by doing a free scholarship search. Scholarships.com will match you with personalized results and help you find money to further you higher education goals.