Taking Your Kid To College is Surreal This Year
My wife and I were extremely busy this week preparing to take our youngest child off to college. I have to say, this year with the pandemic has caused a great deal of confusion, anxiety, extra expense and extra work.
There's so much confusion because around the country, schools are basically making up policy as they go. Each state has different restrictions and levels of the virus. In New York, Governor Cuomo along with the health department have instilled several restrictions and guidelines that need to be followed and schools have added their own in order to make people feel safe. Because of the new guidelines, there are all sorts of new restrictions that add plenty of confusion and anxiety. Then, there are all the extra steps that have to be taken in order to meet the social distancing, the cleaning and the guidelines, that in the end all cost money.
In my daughter's case, the school would only allow one parent to come on to campus to move in the student. Meanwhile, everyone who entered the campus had to be masked and the normal clusters of people entering the dorm rooms was no where to be found. Students and parents had to enter in waves so as to make sure there weren't too many people in the hallway or in a room at the same time. Parents were then given less than two hours to move everything in and assist in setting up the room. It was stressful.
As classes begin, schools around the country including our own Utica College are struggling with students violating social distancing rules and forming mass gatherings that schools fear could spread the virus and cause the entire operation to close down. On the day my daughter moved in, she received an email that read: "I'm sure you're seeing schools failing around the country in their reopening because of students violating the rules. Be smart and let's show the world that we can do this. Otherwise, we'll be forced to close the campus just likes others are being forced to do."
Those rules on campus including students remaining in their "bubble" inside their dorm and avoiding all large gatherings. In fact, half of my daughter's classes will be taught online, from her dorm. Meanwhile most schools have returned early in August, and will complete classes by Thanksgiving break in hopes of avoiding a possible second wave of COVID-19 combined with flu season.
Will students and colleges be able to succeed in this "back to campus" experiment? Or will these clusters of young people spread the virus all over again in places like New York that have succeeded in flattening the curve?
Only time will tell, but at least for now, school is back in session.