When colleges return for the Fall 2020 semester, students, teachers and administrators aren’t quite sure what this will look like. Although the pandemic is expected to lessen over the next few months, doctors fear that next year’s flu season will result in another severe outbreak. This is forcing schools to reconsider opening back up in September, or develop a COVID-19 education policy by coming up with social distancing ideas. In a time of unprecedented uncertainty, trying to plan for a fall semester can seem like a daunting task. Unfortunately, in order to assure their future, that is what universities have begun to do – plan for the worst case scenario. 

How, and if, schools will reopen in September will largely be determined by two factors: 1. public health orders in regards to gatherings, which will dictate class sizes, and 2. the reopening of international borders, which will allow international students to return to school. Many of these factors may not be determined until closer to the planned start of classes. Education overall cannot be cancelled; thus, schools have to come up with social distancing ideas to plan a workaround. This new COVID-19 education policy will be needed for class registration, student services, and classes themselves. 

Social Distancing Ideas For Education

Although many colleges have moved to online class registration, some still require paperwork to drop classes or add new ones late in the semester. Generally, the paperwork requires a professor’s signature and a meeting with an academic advisor. With social distancing education requirements dictating how many people can be in confined spaces and how close they can be, academic advising will likely need to move towards social distancing ideas like virtual appointments, where advisors and students can meet over video conferencing. The same will be required for other student services, such as financial aid. Waiting rooms can also become virtual, with students queuing online to wait for appointments. This can bring down the customer wait time for advising appointments, allowing for both employees and students to save time.

Call centers are another options for student services. Demand for student services greatly fluctuates throughout the academic year, with the beginning of the semester driving up demand. With proper call center management, colleges can increase the availability of call center representatives during the busier times and reduce representatives when demand lessens. Overall, this results in a positive customer experience, allowing students to be served efficiently. 

Perhaps the greatest source of need for social distancing education ideas lies in conducting the actual classes. Both public health orders around gathering sizes and the reopening of borders most directly impact this area. Even if classes can remain operational, if international students are not able to return to the country, this will severely impact the education system. Colleges across the globe quickly adapted to moving classes online, with assignments and exams completed virtually. During the Fall 2020 semester, it is highly likely that these systems will still need to remain in place to keep people healthy and improve access to education. 

Develop a COVID-19 Education Policy For The Future

No matter how colleges choose to proceed following the pandemic, there is a definite possibility that higher education of the future will look very different. With social distancing ideas and technology implementation improving the experience for students, there is every possibility that students will still want flexible options for advising, student services and classes. Even if schools are able to return to normal, the improved customer experience strategies that were required for social distancing may result in higher education changing forever.