As Colleges Face Decisions Over Reopening, Students Are Left in the Dark

Published by Ariel Pacheco on

As Colleges Face Decisions Over Reopening, Students Are Left in the Dark

Georgia State University is set to open August 24.
Avant-Youth | Naja Lopez

With schools reopening in the coming weeks, concern is growing among students with unclear guidelines. Differing opinions and changing announcements on how to handle the reopening of schools are leaving students with more questions than answers. 

All health guidelines will be decided based on guidance from the Department of Health and the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force, according to the USG. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently pushed for in-person instruction this fall, and set forth new reopening guidelines. 

“I am very concerned,” said Holly Johnson, a 25-year-old college junior at the University of Georgia who is dealing with heart issues. “I’ve spoken with a lot of people at my school, and they haven’t really offered any assistance or any accommodations.”

Johnson says that she noticed her school website had a resource page where students in need of accommodations could submit the necessary documents and be addressed by the school’s administration. She, herself, has not received a response yet, but a friend of hers has, and it has left her discouraged.

“I kind of expected the accommodations to be ‘we’ll let you do online classes,’” said Johnson. “But instead the accommodations were ‘we will give you masks, and we will give you hand sanitizer.’”

An English major entering her senior year says her concerns center around the nature of classrooms (this student preferred to remain anonymous, though we’ve verified her identity and affiliation as a student).

“I am just worried that having in-class sessions is going to endanger more people than is necessary,” she said. 

She adds that she’d want to see her university implement more precautions such as daily temperature checks, wearing masks, social distancing and self-isolating if someone is feeling sick. 

The reopening of schools has been publicly and hotly debated. President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have been strong proponents for the reopening of schools in the fall, along with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has argued that schools should remain closed or COVID-19 will continue its spread. 

Regardless, as things stand now, the decision to return to in-person learning and implement any health guidelines will be informed by multiple health agencies. The debate does allow students to individually decide whether or not to return if their school decides to reopen. 

Colton Delong, a 22-year-old college freshman, says that although he wouldn’t feel comfortable returning to in-class learning until there is a vaccine, if schools did reopen, he would have to go. 

“Unfortunately I would have to go. I can’t just risk my education like that.” 

With over 200,000 confirmed cases in Georgia and cases continuing to rise, the concern is that a reopening of colleges across the state will only contribute to the spread of the deadly virus. Another concern is that some feel there has been a lack of communication on the part of these universities. 

“It feels like no one at this school really cares right now,” said Johnson. “It seems like they’re so overwhelmed that they’re just shutting out student concerns.”

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Ariel Pacheco

Ariel Pacheco

Ariel Pacheco is a graduate student at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY in New York City. He has a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and loves to read and write. Sports and gaming are his two biggest passions. He hopes to be able to travel across America covering a variety of topics ranging from sports to politics.

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