A Typical University Day in the COVID-19 Era.
I am generally skeptical of efforts to resume classes on campus in the fall. I don’t think Universities can expect students to strictly conform to social distancing guidance. Nor do I think that Universities have the capacity to plan for a complicated transition in the span of months. But let’s say that Universities figure it out, and invite students back to class in the fall. What would that an average day look like? I submit that the learning experience will be very, very different than students expect. Let’s sketch a typical school day in the COVID-19 era.
Monday morning. You arrive at school. You are given a temperature check at the front entrance. These devices can be unreliable, and instruments have to be calibrated carefully. If you flunk the temperature check, you will not be allowed in the building, and will have to turn around and go home. Even if you were stuck in rush-hour traffic for an hour. And because you have nowhere to go, and have to drive back home, you will miss your class. Or maybe you try to watch the lecture on your phone in the parking lot. I hope there is good wifi. Too bad if you took public transit to class–it is not possible to answer a question on the subway. At some point, you will have to notify your professor you were absent because you failed the temperature check–even if you are entirely asymptomatic. Attendance records will be a mess.
Next, you finally enter the building. You’ll notice that there are stickers on the floor telling you where you can walk, and in what direction. No, you can’t hang out in the law school atrium and chat with friends. The student lounge is closed. And seating in the library will be strictly regulated.
Lockers will likely be unavailable. It is dangerous for people to congregate so closely together, and there are are far too many touch-points. So you will have to cary all your books with you. You may decide to bring a roller-board suitcase to carry around your personal library. That decision may prove problematic when you wish to us an elevator. Due to social distancing, only four people can use the elevator at once–everyone will be asked to stand in a corner, and stare at the wall. The lines for elevators will be quite long during class breaks. And people will have to be spaced six-feet apart on the queue. Schools will encourage students to take the stairs–a tough task for those with all of their textbooks. In addition, one staircase will be designated for going up, and another for going down. Don’t use the wrong staircase.
Now you get off the elevator. You’ll notice more markings on the floor. Traffic will circulate in the hallway, clockwise only. If you see your friend behind you, you can’t stop and turn around to chat. No, you have to keep walking till you get your class. But don’t miss it. Otherwise, you will be stuck in a never-ending roundabout, like in National Lampoon’s Europe
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