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Bennett's Ballot: Ohio universities are scrambling to devise effective plans for Spring Semester

Colleges throughout Ohio are releasing their plans for Spring Semester, and considering what to do about on-campus housing. The uncertainty of what the future holds regarding COVID-19 leaves everyone in an ominous sea of choices. 

This fall semester, most college students were given one option, staying home and continuing their studies virtually through the world of Zoom. However, some colleges chose to allow all their students on to campus, although the classes were likely to be online. Only a small amount were to be in-person or hybrid. 

With the arrival of new and eager college students, on-campus housing not only welcomed students to their new dorms but, more specifically, welcomed them to the world of college culture. 

This choice could have been a factor of the spike in COVID-19 cases. College students are inexorable when it comes to socializing. College students crave social events, new people and the act of togetherness. COVID-19 was destined to become a friendly next-door neighbor.

In October, Ohio ranked fourth in COVID-19 cases among college students. Multiple universities faced spikes in the first week of letting students back on campus. Some even had to place their students in nearby hotels in order to quarantine. Ohio State students turned a dorm building into a quarantine hot spot.

The question is, with what has happened this semester, will colleges choose to do the exact same thing next semester?

Ohio University, who originally kept many students home this fall semester, partook in a phased return. OU chose to allow all students to have the choice of living on campus this spring. Classes will stay online or take on a hybrid format.

Ohio State University decided for the fall and the spring semester to keep matters identical. They have decided to bring all students back to campus, and keep all students online the first week.

Miami University began their semester one week earlier than other Ohio universities. In the fall, Miami hoped to bring back all their students to in-person classes but these hopes were soon crushed by the lieu of online classes. The spring allows students to stay home and continue classes virtual but encourages students to stay on campus and participate in hybrid classes.   

The University of Cincinnati encouraged students to come back to campus in the fall, but classes were to be held virtually with only a small number in person. They followed a phased approach, like Ohio University. The spring semester looks the same as the fall, but with more COVID-19 regulations.

Bowling Green University, like UC, held students on campus with majority online classes and some in person. The university plans to continue their method next semester.

The University of Dayton brought their students back in the fall, but they experienced difficulties. UD plans to continue allowing students back on their campus in the spring.

These universities are also making it difficult to have a semester in permanent residency. In order to proceed with college at home, all classes have to be online, and that isn’t always the case for many students. Therefore, even if staying home is a student’s first option, they may not be able to due to their university’s restrictions.

Universities don’t want to lose their money, but there’s the information the majority of the university websites choose to leave out: the rising COVID-19 cases on their campuses. UD had to rent out the Marriott next to their campus to hold quarantined students and they had to move all classes to an online format for a couple of weeks.

Miami University experienced the same thing. Miami decided to bring back many of its students before the start of the first semester. COVID numbers grew rapidly with the return of students from all around the United States. 

These actions were caused by students taking the liberty to go out to packed bars, frat parties and group gatherings. Then again, what did colleges expect to happen when putting college students together?

With spring semester dawning, universities seem to be leaving the choice up to their students. Commonly, colleges are abolishing their spring breaks in order to keep students from visiting others. This plan seems smart, but where do universities think everyone was at during winter break?

It seems as if this virus needs to go through everyone before the U.S. can make conquest and colleges can soundly send their students back to campus.

Online schooling is obviously not the ideal medium for learning. However, online schooling allows for safe and socially distance learning. Learning new material in school is not the only learning curve people are struggling with –– learning how to handle this pandemic is first and foremost the most difficult lesson of them all.

Kayla Bennett is a freshman studying journalism. Please note that the views and ideas of columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Kayla? Tweet her @kkayyben

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