How Do You Prepare for a Pandemic Semester?
It’s back-to-school season, and for colleges, that usually brings all kinds of familiar rituals: families helping their kids move into dorms; professors going over their notes and preparing to teach a new batch of students; campuses springing back to life after a quiet summer.
Well, that's usually the way of things. But here we are in the fall of 2020 with a global pandemic raging and for colleges, and nothing is quite the same.
Colleges have installed plexiglass barriers in front of lecterns, required students to wipe down their desks with hand sanitizer and, of course, required everyone to wear masks to class.
For college professors, the stakes of teaching in this environment are high.
“What I'm most concerned about is that one of my students will get sick enough that they are forever affected, or sick enough that they don't make it,” says Rachel Davenport, a senior lecturer at Texas State University. “And then if that happens, will I wonder, did they catch it in my class? Could I have done something different to have prevented it?”
That was one concern revealed in the first episode of a new series of the EdSurge Podcast, called Pandemic Campus Diaries.
We've signed up professors and students at six colleges asking them to share audio diaries of college life. It’s a mix of campuses. Some of them—Texas State, Purdue University and Syracuse University—are opening their campuses to in-person instructions. Others we’ve included—Chapman University, San Francisco State University—plan to start out fully online for the fall. And the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee will be open but run many classes as a hybrid of online and in person instruction.
And the students are all very different as well. Learn more about them and see full details about the project on our series page.
On this first episode of the Pandemic Campus Diaries series, we ask the question: How do you prepare for this back-to-school season like no other? Our diarists describe their efforts to get ready to teach or learn effectively and safely and talk through their concerns about what lies ahead.