How Colleges are Preparing for Next Year


Natalie Bashore

In just a few short weeks, colleges will be starting the next semester of classes. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in-person classes will have to adapt to the Covid-19 precautions and guidelines for those classes to occur. Those guidelines include staying several feet apart and wearing protective masks or face coverings.

George Mason University is starting their spring semester as of January 25, 2021. They are using the hybrid model, with in-person classes as well as expanded online classes. There is also an option of teleworking for employees, where employees can choose to work from home or from other remote locations, instead of teaching in-person.

Students attending in-person classes at George Mason University must maintain a minimum of six feet apart from other students whenever that is possible. Classrooms and instructional spaces have also been modified for social distancing requirements. Common areas of the campus such as lobbies, student centers, and study spaces have been closed off or relocated. Wearing masks, gloves, and washing hands regularly is considered critical for students’ and employees’ safety.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, also known as Virginia Tech, is also using the hybrid learning model for the upcoming semester. Teleworking is encouraged for both students and employees whenever that is possible. Social distancing and wearing masks are encouraged, and individuals that are at a high risk for catching Covid-19 may choose not to work in activities where social distancing is not possible.

The number of graduate students and paid research assistants in labs at Virginia Tech will be limited to those that are performing work that is required to support sponsored projects, or if the labs are required for students’ completion of their degrees. In-person research and labs will be considered so that safety protocols are in place.

Virginia State University is planning on most students to return to campus by the start of the semester on February 1, 2021. Students will have to be tested twice for Covid-19 prior to campus entrance, and there will also be a random testing of students during the semester. Those who test positive for Covid-19 may return home or quarantine at the university’s Whiting Hall. There are 55 quarantine spaces set aside at the Whiting Hall for those who choose to stay on campus.

Virginia State University may shut down in-person classes if the state makes it mandatory, or if there is an increase in positive Covid-19 tests that exceeds five percent of the on-campus population.
Students that are planning on attending college classes in-person this coming semester should practice the necessary safety precautions. Social distancing and wearing masks are recommended or required at most campuses. If students and employees do not follow the safety guidelines, they are putting themselves and others at a greater risk of getting Covid-19.