The picture of what is ahead for Fall at my institution is gradually becoming less opaque. As noted before, I am not a fan of a “we’ll all be together again” spin on what is to come.
The fact is that there is even more hard work ahead this summer than previously realized, and with even less payout, perhaps, for the Fall on campus experience. And even with the positive spin on Fall plans, I learned yesterday that enrollment numbers for incoming freshmen are much lower than planned. If my quick, back of hand calculations are anywhere near accurate, this represents millions of dollars in lost revenue just for the next academic year.
It is quite sobering and disheartening.
Equally disheartening is when I hear that incoming and returning students are saying how much they are looking forward to “being together again” when the reality once they get to campus will be starkly different. I think a good portion of students will be in for a rude awakening.
In the meantime, we are scrambling to figure out classroom space. It is again sobering to realize that in the Fall, a lecture hall normally seating ~150 people will only be able to have 30 people. Library group study rooms are now too small to allow their use at all.
Also, a significant minority of our students, as well as some faculty, will not be on campus at all due to health concerns or socioeconomic factors. This will especially be true for international students. Again, it is hard for me to see how all of the work to enable “being together again” is worthwhile when we most definitely will not “be all together again.”
When I articulated this jaundiced view to someone else the other day, they sensibly asked, “Well, what is the alternative?” Honestly, I am not sure. But the near future does not look good on many levels.