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Semester wrap up for in person colleges. What worked and what did not

momofsenior1momofsenior1 11137 replies142 threads Senior Member
edited November 20 in Parents Forum
I’m going to be honest and say that I’m shocked my D made it through the entire planned for semester at Purdue and not at our dining room table!

Overall, she had a good semester and was happy to be on campus. The learning happened, the clubs happened, she got another internship lined up, more leadership experiences, etc.... albeit nothing like usual.

What I think Purdue did right-
- Pre arrival and departure testing for everyone
- aggressive contact tracing and random testing
- partnering with the mayor of town to make off campus rules the same as on campus rules
- suspending students not following the rules throughout the semester.
- making it easy for kids who were sick to go to class virtually and have no penalty
- aggressive case managing and quarantining
- setting up classrooms to social distance and improving air handling throughout campus (not one covid case was traced to a classroom).

What I think they could have done better-
- even more testing - IMO everyone should have been tested weekly. My D only had four tests all semester and one was contact tracing. Granted she lived alone in a single with a private bath so wasn’t prioritized, but still more would have been better.
- de- densifying communal living houses (more than 60% of cases were traced back to densely populated houses).
- food service options could have been better
- more reading days within the semester for mental health breaks
- better enforcement of students not leaving the community

Lots of room for improvement but they succeeded in getting students through the semester on campus.

How did your student’s college do? What do you think could have been better?
edited November 20
15 replies
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Replies to: Semester wrap up for in person colleges. What worked and what did not

  • LindagafLindagaf 11568 replies611 threads Super Moderator
    Interesting feedback, @momofsenior1 .

    My daughter graduated from Bates this year, so obviously isn’t on campus, but is in touch with friends there. Her understanding is that given how strict Bates is, it’s been a pretty successful year. Bates implemented programs to keep students engaged. She thinks students are generally happy and the measures the college put in place have been serving them well. I think most classes are in person. I believe students are tested twice a week and so far there have been a small number of cases, mostly in November. If anyone has better info about Bates, feel free to share.

    My son attends Binghamton. He lives off campus and only had one tutorial session on campus, so he wasn’t there much. I think he didn’t get a lot from it, but it was good for him to be on campus occasionally because it felt more “normal.” He hates remote learning, but to to him, the alternative of skipping a semester and finding a temporary low-paying job is worse. All classes over a certain size are remote, and my son is a soph so most of his classes are larger. Not being in actual classes isn’t great.

    He and his roommates all got Covid. I am pretty sure they were not going to big parties because I don’t believe there have been any, but I’m sure they also haven’t been terribly careful. Luckily they were only mildly unwell.

    From what I’ve gathered, the students who live on campus haven’t been enjoying the experience. There is nothing for them to do. Apparently, the rules are super strict. The college tests dorm waste water. It also tests students both on and off campus. My son and his roommates were tested twice before actually getting Covid. Despite all the measures, Binghamton shut down mid semester, and will now hold remote only classes due to rising Covid cases. All SUNY’s are requiring every student to be tested before going home for Tgiving.

    It seems Binghamton has done a better job than most other SUNY’s in monitoring the situation. Maybe they have been extra cautious because they want to protect their reputation. From the parent social media boards I’ve seen, it looks like a lot of kids don’t want to remain on campus in the spring. I think a lot of colleges are going to see an exodus of students for spring semester.

    From my sample of two, what works? Clearly lots of testing and strict social distancing measures are helpful. There was no uncontrolled explosion of cases. Binghamton shut down earlier due to an abundance of caution. And clearly, in person classes are far better for students than remote.

    I think what doesn’t work is giving students NO outlets for socialization. I guess this is the big conundrum. How can students be sociable when they have to maintain social distancing? This is really an experiment and the final data have yet to be analyzed.
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  • itsgettingreal21itsgettingreal21 437 replies6 threads Member
    My D attends UGA. They do not have mandatory testing and their numbers have remained high all semester.

    My D lives off campus with 3 roommates in a 4 br/4 ba apartment. Overall the semester has gone fine. She chose to take all of her classes, except the one honors seminar she TAs, online, even though they most were hybrid. She made that choice due to the high rate of COVID circulating and students not being careful. Clubs happened virtually and or in person socially distanced. She eschewed parties and large gatherings and instead enjoyed spending time with a smaller group of friends this semester. She voluntarily tests every week and has been careful. I believe next semester will have most classes in person. Parents have demanded in person classes and many think they should let the students have a normal college experience (different thinking in different parts of the country).
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  • CollegeMamb0CollegeMamb0 187 replies1 threads Junior Member
    My D attends Bama, is an upperclassman in an off campus apartment with half her classes in person, and half online. Her experience is very similar to that of @itsgettingreal21 above. Bama has been very lax with testing and tracing and quarantining, but so has the local council. Football has been back, parties have been going on, and bars are busy. D has done none of these and chooses to socialize with small groups of friends. The weather does allow for more outdoor options.

    From reading that mammoth thread, colleges with tight control over the community have fared better in controlling spread and offering some activities: largely residential colleges for example, or public schools tightly aligned with the local gvt. Anything else has been shut down or a free for all!
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  • leftrightleftleftrightleft 498 replies8 threads Member
    My youngest attends UIUC. The best thing they did: twice a week testing. When cases started climbing they issued a stay home order for two weeks and cases dropped.
    Some classes are in person as are some activities. My student found different ways to have fun- golf, nearby hiking, etc that they normally would not have done while at school. The university did provide some social activities like concert, movies, in the fb stadium which I think helped many, especially freshman.

    A tough but good lesson in how to adapt and sometimes you need to sacrifice a bit for the greater good.
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  • Xavier_DredoXavier_Dredo 44 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Northeastern is doing a great job with testing. D gets tested every 3 days. To date the school has conducted 412,000+ tests and have only had 294 positive results, a 0.17% 7 day moving average positivity rate.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 85298 replies761 threads Senior Member
    edited November 20
    Lindagaf wrote: »
    I think what doesn’t work is giving students NO outlets for socialization. I guess this is the big conundrum. How can students be sociable when they have to maintain social distancing? This is really an experiment and the final data have yet to be analyzed.

    People (in general, including but not just college students) whose socialization revolves around outdoor activity that is or can easily be done at a distance probably find social distancing to be the least burdensome. Those whose socialization revolves around crowded indoor activity probably find social distancing to be the most burdensome.
    edited November 20
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 43001 replies2311 threads Super Moderator
    It's just really hard to keep socializing outside during a northern winter. When I was running seriously, every year I would say, "OK, this will be the year I run throughout the entire winter!" and I'd give up about mid-January. It's frigging cold. And the wind cuts right through you when it's 10 degrees.

    Having said that, my daughter asked for cold-weather gear for Christmas so she and her friends can get together as long as possible.
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  • CollegeMamb0CollegeMamb0 187 replies1 threads Junior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    Lindagaf wrote: »
    I think what doesn’t work is giving students NO outlets for socialization. I guess this is the big conundrum. How can students be sociable when they have to maintain social distancing? This is really an experiment and the final data have yet to be analyzed.

    People (in general, including but not just college students) whose socialization revolves around outdoor activity that is or can easily be done at a distance probably find social distancing to be the least burdensome. Those whose socialization revolves around crowded indoor activity probably find social distancing to be the most burdensome.

    Yes, agreed - my D is a more outdoorsy person and likes to socialize with hiking, running and other activities. Plus the southern weather makes it easier.
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  • ultimomultimom 284 replies3 threads Junior Member
    I just ordered my son ski pants and gloves to be delivered to Boston so he can be comfortable outside. We're in Texas so he didn't already have a full set of cold weather outdoor gear.

    Following the other Northeastern post, the university has done a good job keeping numbers down with surveillance testing and contact tracing in conjunction with quarantine and isolation housing. Spread was not traced to classroom setting but rather off campus.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 3214 replies53 threads Senior Member
    Given the upward trend in the general population, and the sharp upward trend of the school’s dashboard, I’m glad my D is driving home until January as I type. The 7-day rolling average has doubled in the last 30 days, most sharply in the last 2 weeks.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 9210 replies125 threads Senior Member
    @Lindagaf I don't believe "most" classes were in person at Bates. We did a virtual student panel with my D21 - four Bates students. We asked all of them if they had classes in person and only one out of the four did and her class was hybrid, not all in person. Bummer. I'm sure Bates did a bang up job with remote classes. Just don't think many were in person.
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  • melvin123melvin123 1988 replies35 threads Senior Member
    My kid is at Brown and they made a radical change to their schedule. They shortened Fall and Spring semesters by a couple of weeks, and added in a summer semester that is the same length as Fall/Spring. Then they said Freshmen can attend Spring and Summer, Sophmores can attend Fall and Summer, and Juniors & Seniors attend Fall and Spring. They did this to de-densify the campus, and they also rented private housing to add to their housing stock. And they gave off-campus permission to a lot of Juniors, when typically only Seniors can live off-campus.

    I think their de-densification plan worked in large part and they were able to keep their numbers pretty low this Fall, given the community numbers. Because the numbers were so low, Brown decided that Sophmores can come back to the extent there are housing accommodations.

    But I think that shortening the semester has led to a lot more stress for the kids, as they seem to be going from one set of exams pretty quickly into the next set. Even though the number of weeks is less, you still have to fit in all the same work.

    I also bet the school wishes it didn’t have to start Spring semester mid-Jan.

    There was also a lot of disruption for the kids, as classes started on-line in Sept, but they weren’t allowed in the dorms until October, and now they have to move-out for Thanksgiving and finish the semester at home. Students actually have to pack up everything and move out because they aren’t necessarily going to have the same dorm; they are trying to put all the Freshmen together to give them a good experience.

    So, all in all, I’d say that Brown’s radical change has very mixed reviews. There are all sorts of minor kinks, like one would expect when you make such a huge change in a relatively short time frame. When they were implementing this, no one knew whether this would go on for years, and how any of this would look. So, I think Good On Them for trying.

    The best thing that Brown did was they hired additional TAs last summer to work with the profs to make the classes on-line friendly. A lot of work was put into this, and my D said it showed. Good thing for her, since all of her classes were on-line.

    I really hope they go back to the regular 2 semester schedule next year!
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  • sdl0625sdl0625 1117 replies13 threads Senior Member
    RIT was doing great until the end of Oct. They even had a 2 week period of no cases . Cases started to climb just as NY state cases started to climb. Also I heard that Halloween had some parties, though RIT is not known to be a party school. They have kept hybrid classes until next week, stating that there was no transmission from classroom. I believe when the weather was warm and they were able to do outdoor stuff that really helped.
    My son is a stay at home person, so socially it did not affect him, except not meeting the few clubs he belonged to . But many freshman parents were saying that it was very hard for their kids to meet other kids and make friends. It seems like a bunch are choosing to take online only in the spring and come home.
    Their approach to testing on campus was based on wastewater testing. If anything positive then would test an entire dorm. Otherwise it seems like a few people were randomly tested and any off campus students would as well. it always seemed like off campus had more isolations and Quarantines.
    So what they did right. - those who wanted to be could be. Doubles were allowed, so some kids had roommates. They tried to have some outdoor social activities when things were good Those who had hybrid classes at least go to go to campus once a week for that class (split A/B). Wastewater testing.! They are allowing students who want to remain on campus during the break to do so, or even stay during finals, even if finals are online.
    What they could have improved. more individual testing. probably from students living in apartments near campus. Food at first was a big issue with lots of lines .
    Anything else is not something controlled because of the virus.
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  • sdl0625sdl0625 1117 replies13 threads Senior Member
    now GW. no attempt at on campus was decided weeks before students were to move in. then only about 500 students were allowed. . Many SEniors stayed in DC due to leases, but no access to anything on campus. Freshman to juniors also rented short term apartments just to be in DC. Announced for spring all online, about 1500 students can live on campus, based on who wanted to . no attempt to even have a few classes in person and maybe have "seniors and Freshman" on campus like other schools. cancelled in person graduation now, instead of waiting to see what the vaccine does. Horrible communication from administration. my child is graduating next month and happy to be done. She decided to stay here versus being "locked in a small apartment with nothing to do ". It also seems that even with all online, many kids cannot get classes they need for the spring, like they are short on professors. The other DC schools seem to have a better plan for spring. I did hear that there was lots of testing of the 500 students who were on campus in the fall, and the numbers were pretty good. It was the Seniors and others living off campus that caused DC some issues.
    So many are disappointed in the school with its lack of communication and poor leadership. I have learned being blocks from the White house and the internship opportunities is what makes the school appealing. Not the school itself.
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  • PrdMomto1PrdMomto1 683 replies7 threads Member
    My D is at Rice. Semester went WAY better than expected considering the situation in Houston when we sent her was not great. I think they had 37 undergrad positives since 8/1. Nine of those were students testing positive upon arrival. Rice's goal did not seem to be zero positives, but to find a balance between controlling outbreaks and letting the kids have some "safe fun".

    Students and professors were given lots of choices. While classes of less than 25 could be in person the professors could choose whether or not to be remote. Classes less than 50 could be in person if there was a big enough space and/or the professor could get creative (rotate in person days to limit class sizes, etc). A lot more classes ended up remote that people expected.

    Students had a choice on whether to come to campus or stay remote. And whether to live on campus or off campus. At the time the decision had to be made the situation in Houston was not great and a lot of kids chose remote. I can't remember the exact numbers but density on campus was less than 60%. A LOT more kids lived off campus compared to normal. I believe about 85% of freshman came to campus and more are coming next semester.

    All kids who lived on campus, and those who planned to come to campus for class or socially, were tested weekly. They could test more often if they wanted as well. Part way through the semester they asked those who lived off campus but interacted with anyone on campus to test as well. They found through contact tracing, that most positives seemed to originate off campus.

    A few other things:

    Masks were mandatory on campus unless eating or in your room. Even outside.

    Eating only allowed outside or in room. Luckily the weather is Houston is nice much of the year but when they had rainy periods my D complained a lot about this. This is probably the biggest thing the kids wish would change for next semester.

    Group sizes limited to 50 with distancing. This allowed for the residential colleges and college to hold outside events.

    Campus was dry for the first 1/2 or so of the semester. Later that was changed to alcohol being allowed at approved events.

    Students only allowed to visit those who live on the same floor as them.

    Students allowed to go off campus though they are expected to follow mask and distance rules.

    The school got creative with tents for extra large classroom space.

    They had a "covid court" that dealt with people reported as not following the rules. This has been a little controversial. I think the intent was to help parents and students feel safer coming to campus. But, it means that kids are reporting other kids for breaking the rules. It seems the punishments are fairly minor if the infractions are minor (not distancing at meals, etc). If someone does something that is considered more serious that is dealt with differently.

    The school is doing very comprehensive contract tracing and the kids do NOT get in trouble for anything they report during contract tracing. They want the kids to be honest.

    Very strict isolation and quarantine protocols. Kids with any symptoms are isolated and their roommates quarantined until testing completed.

    The kids signed a "Culture of Care" agreement before coming to campus agreeing to the rules and the school really relied on them to make good choices for things to work. There was a lot of emphasis on keeping others safe. It worked for them, but that's sort of their culture. D said no one wanted to be the person who got their friends sick or quarantined.

    Overall it went surprisingly well. There didn't seem to be any large on-campus outbreaks. When a couple students in one residential college tested positive the school acted quickly and also increased testing. As I said before most cases originated off campus. There was a much higher percentage of staff and grad students testing positive, which makes sense since they live off campus. D only knew 1 person who tested positive.

    Next semester quite a few students are coming back to campus so density will increase. Many students currently with singles being asked to double up. D will also be spend about 2/3 of her class time in person (compared to just 1 class this semester). The school asked the kids what changes they would like to see happen so we'll see what changes the school makes. Move in is different in spring. Instead of rapid tests, all kids have to take a PCR test and then quarantine for the 12 - 24 hours it takes for the results to come back.

    I would say D is happy she went back though she in anxious for things to go back to normal. Some kids felt campus life was boring and a few are going home next semester.

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