Return to Campus Planning: Communicating With Students
Return to Campus: Communicating With Students
Imagine preparing for your last few months of school, leaving for spring break, and then being told that you would not be returning. The spring homecoming celebrations, graduation, and living your “best college life” as a whole, seems as if it’s thrown out the window.
Now think about how it would feel to try to return to campus after being secluded in your home for a whole year. Trying to return to some sense of normalcy after being online for the past three semesters can be a daunting task. This pandemic has posed many challenges for students across the nation.
As a senior, representing our student body as president, there are three things I’m recommending to our campus leadership.
Prepping for online learning vs in-person
When the pandemic first began, students had to quickly transition from in person learning to online. A year later, the situation is reversed. Despite what the media says, many students found that attending class online was a more convenient way for them to learn. We have gotten used to not having to do any preparation beyond opening our laptops.
Now that vaccines have been introduced and campuses are reopening, adjusting to an 8am walk to class across campus as well as being prepared for class feels really different.
Faculty taking the extra effort to support students will go a long way to support student success. Little nudges about upcoming assignments, changes to class times, and reminders of resources reinforce to students that the faculty are “on their side” as they wade though ongoing challenges both in and out of the classroom. Texting students their class schedule or that class will start soon would be useful as well.
COVID- 19 and the benefits of the classroom
For some students being in the classroom, doing team exercises, engaging with faculty, and having those positive interactions with peers is what college is all about. And, after a year without that face-to-face, it’s exciting. Then, there’s COVID throwing a wrench in everything: “Don’t get too close”, “Wear a mask”, and “who sat at this desk previously?”
Having faculty and staff provide guidance and be open to feedback is really helpful as students navigate campus. Validate that health concerns are real. Appreciate that it does take a special approach to keep classes in person and campuses open. And refer students to additional support to process the experience.
Financial burden on students and families
Online learning allowed many students to work and study conveniently from their homes eliminating room and board expenses. Since the return of back to campus, for many of us meant living costs were back.
Offering assistance to students, text reminders can be sent out reminding students when a payment is due to make sure that they stay on time with due dates. Alerting students to scholarship and financial aid reminders can be the nudge to ensure the student maintains the financial support to complete their credential.
We know that faculty and staff are still trying to figure things out and are moving mountains to help us. Yet, we look to you for the answers. If you don’t know, it’s ok, just say, “that’s a good question. I don’t know, but let’s figure it out!” That validation and offer of support means the world to students – regardless of who they are.
Keep up the good work and know that we appreciate you… even if we seem distracted and unresponsive.
To learn more about how to assist as an administrator during this time, read our blog Communication for Colleges Returning in the Fall.
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