Should Schools Open for the Fall Semester?

Madison Popovic, Senior, Editorial Director

Even though life is forever changing, some aspects must remain the same. With the current coronavirus pandemic, people are beginning to look towards the new future and, specifically, the new future of education. It is still unclear whether or not schools will open for in-person instruction in the coming fall, though many hope that they will. For the past few weeks, students around the world have taken part in online and virtual instruction. This has caused many college students to respond to their institutions with the question pertaining to tuition. College students sought refunds for exorbitant tuition as instruction was moved online, something many colleges and universities have resisted. Students have maintained that if they do not experience hands-on classroom learning, dorm life, fraternity/sorority events, clubs, activities, and, most essential of all, the experience of living independently and making decisions as adults, even the finest on-line classes cannot make-up for what the college experience should be.This will most likely be a future dilemma if schools do not continue in-person lessons in the fall. Meanwhile, on the elementary and secondary school levels, the greater use of technology in the classroom has convinced some that education is going to change meteorically in a couple of months as technology has proven to be a means in which one can learn information outside a physical school building. Others believe that there is no substitution for social interaction in the learning process. The relationship between students and teachers, students and guidance counselors, and students and their peers is intrinsically important to learning. Therefore, as health concerns are properly addressed,  schools reopen in September. This will allow the economy to recover, and would help universities address the tuition crisis for college students, and help younger students effectively learn with instruction remaining an in-person activity rather than one done impersonally across a computer screen. 

It is imperative that schools open this coming fall, as this will aid the current economy. In an article published by CNBC, Alex Sherman said, “Reopening schools is arguably the most essential complication to overcome for economic recovery. Many parents simply can’t go back to work if their children are still home, no matter what government officials or business executives say about potential recovery timelines.” Children staying home has posed a problem for many parents as they are unable to do their jobs at home. As a result, the economy has been negatively affected and needs to be amended as soon as possible. 

This pandemic also affects students who attend universities around the world. Upon schools closing, college students were sent home from campus. However, many desired to have a partial refund as they were no longer living on campus and not attending classes in a physical classroom. Some students were left with no option other than to pay the full tuition. Nick Anderson said, in an article published by The Washington Post, Pavan Patel wonders why he and others at the private research university in Baltimore are not getting at least a partial tuition refund. Their education, as this school year ends in the shadow of a deadly pandemic, is nothing like the immersive academic and social experience students imagined when they enrolled. But tuition remains the same: $27,675 per semester.” Patel is a student attending Johns Hopkins University and received the unfortunate news that the tuition would remain the same. This begs the question: if in-person instruction does not occur in September, then will college students need to pay the same price? Even though schools should not charge the same amount, it is difficult to determine, as each school has different policies regarding this issue.

Governor Andrew Cuomo desires to further change the future of education by teaming up with Bill Gates. In a Politico article, Madina Toure and Nick Niedzwiadek said, “We’ve all been talking about tele-education, virtual education, remote education, and there is a lot that can be done.” Cuomo said at a press briefing in Manhattan, “When we reopen schools, let’s open a better school and let’s open a smarter education system.” Cuomo praised Bill Gates’ long-standing interest in reforming education policy, work that has proven to be a mixed bag and has generated considerable blowback from teachers and other education players. Cuomo seems to want to make education more technology based. However, this does not benefit the majority of students as many do not have access to adequate technology. Tony Romm, in an article published by The Washington Post, said, With coronavirus, we’re about to expose just how challenging our digital divide is, and just how unequal access to broadband is.” Many do not have the ability to use technology. Alongside this, learning online is not as beneficial as in-person learning. In an article for The New York Times, Susan Dynarski said, “But in high schools and colleges, there is mounting evidence that the growth of online education is hurting a critical group: the less proficient students who are precisely those most in need of skilled classroom teachers.” 

Life around us is changing every day during this pandemic. However, education should continue as an in-person activity this coming fall. This would prevent tuition dilemmas regarding college students and would promote intellectual growth in students worldwide.