How will COVID change fall term for universities?


The pandemic is already affecting university budgets

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Colleges and universities are still working to finalize plans for the fall term. One thing is for sure: this year will look very different for incoming students.

High school seniors who had to finish the year online are now looking at starting their college experience that way as well. Luke Pitzer graduated from Seton Catholic High School in Vancouver and plans to attend Washington State University in Pullman in the fall.

He said WSU is allowing students to move into the dorms, but he will still have to take classes online. Pitzer said he’s not a fan of online learning and has friends who are waiting a year to start college because of that. For him, however, he decided that being on campus was better than nothing.

“At least I’m there, you know, like, I don’t want to be at home,” said Pitzer. “So, at least I can still get out of the house and still see people and hang out, even if it’s not the same. I mean, still get kind of a college experience in a way.”

As for how many students are taking a year off, neither Portland State nor Oregon State universities could say for certain. Classes at those schools don’t start until the end of September and school officials said students still have more time to make that decision.

Smaller class sizes, physical distancing, and masks will all be part of the fall 2020 college experience. Both Oregon State University and Portland State University plan to offer some classes in-person, but the majority will be a combination of online and remote learning.

“We’re talking hundreds of courses with thousands of sections, with 27,000 students,” said PSU spokesperson Chris Broderick. “So, it’s quite a challenge to do all these, but that’s what we’re working on this summer.”

PSU said more courses will be offered on campus in the fall compared to what was offered in the spring, but that’s still based on current public health guidelines. OSU and PSU also plan to limit the number of students in dorms.

The pandemic is already affecting university budgets. OSU said their budget is down $35 to $45 million because of it, and if there’s no football, the budget reductions could approach $80 to $120 million.

For Linfield University, a spokesperson said enrollment numbers for the fall “remain strong,” and reported that the school’s budget hasn’t seen an impact. The university said students and parents support returning to campus in the fall.

“Our job now, working closely with health authorities, is to make the return to both of our campuses as safe as it can possibly be – for students and employees alike. The details are changing all the time as we learn more, and we will continue to communicate them to students, families and employees as they evolve.”

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