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Foreign Students in "Catch-22" as US Colleges Race to Open in Fall

Growing numbers of US colleges have announced they are reopening this Fall but expect dramatic changes to campus life.
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   25-06-2020

University Student

Growing numbers of US colleges have announced they are reopening this Fall, saying their goal is to keep as much as possible about the semester intact, despite the threat of coronavirus.

Expect a new normal: longer days, shortened semesters and hybrid models, where courses will be offered in various formats — some will focus on in-person lectures and discussions; others will be offered fully virtually.

Stanford University will reopen this fall, but due to continuing concerns over the coronavirus, online classes will continue even for students on campus, especially undergraduates.

This of course presents a highly unappealing scenario for many students to want to pay full tuition. Undergraduate tuition at Stanford for 2020-2021 is listed at $55,473, an increase of 4.9% from the previous year, with room and board bringing the total to $78,218.

Other colleges planning to reopen include Purdue University, Texas A&M University, the University of Notre Dame, Tufts University and statewide systems in Arizona, Florida, New Hampshire and elsewhere. Some plan to make decisions this summer, including Princeton University, where officials say it's too soon to make a call.

Tufts University said classes will begin as scheduled on September 8 and conclude December 11. Unlike some other schools, Tufts plans to welcome back all students who want to return to campus. For students living in on-campus housing, move-in dates will be assigned and staggered to allow for social distancing.

The university is sensitive to how tough it might be for some students to fly back to the US with countries doing little to ease border restrictions amid a sweeping coronavirus lockdown.

“We understand that some students may be unable to return to campus and that international students in particular may find themselves facing many challenges,” James M Glaser, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts, wrote in a letter to parents of returning students.  

“We ask that students let us know whether they intend to return to campus this Fall. Alternatively, students could elect to take all of their courses remotely and not come to campus. As yet another option, they could decide to take a leave of absence.”

Most US colleges like Tufts have asked students to tell them their decision and complete a “Fall 2020 Intent Form” by June 30.

If students choose to apply for a leave of absence, they must also submit a leave of absence application through the student information system (SIS) by July 1.

Unlike Tufts, Stanford University has declared that only about “half of undergraduates” will be allowed on campus in fall. Students who are permitted on campus will switch with their peers each subsequent quarter.

Meanwhile, the University of South Carolina is offering a hybrid solution by opening its campus for the Fall semester, but canceling Fall break and ending face-to-face instruction before Thanksgiving, with students completing classes online as well as taking exams remotely.

To reduce risk in the classroom, students will be required to wear masks and classrooms will have fewer students so that everyone can stay 6 feet apart, the school announced. Classes of more than 50 students will be conducted remotely or split up. Other courses will operate in a “hybrid” fashion that allows students to come back to campus or choose to continue to work remotely.

“It’s a Catch-22,” said Rahul Kapadia, a sophomore at University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

“As an international student the whole point of studying in the US is to enjoy a campus experience. But what if one jumps on a plane and comes back to college only to be chased away when a second wave hits?”

Infectious disease experts and economists have raised concerns about a second wave of coronavirus infections in the United States that could worsen in the coming months.

Currently, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases world-wide have surpassed 9.1 million, with more than 2.3 million cases in the US.



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