Nearly two-thirds of college students said they would go back to classes if their colleges reopened in the fall — even if there is no coronavirus vaccine or cure, according to a new Axios/College Reaction poll.
The findings suggest that despite their likelihood of being close together in packed lecture halls, most students would rather be on campus than taking virtual classes online, the coronavirus pandemic notwithstanding.
The point may be moot, as many colleges and universities have already said they won’t open for the fall semester, including California State University, the largest four-year public university in the country.
The school announced Tuesday that it would keep its 23 campuses mostly closed for the fall semester, while other colleges said they would announce their plans in June or even July.
Kristina Johnson, chancellor of the sprawling 64-campus SUNY system, said in a letter to the university community this week that reopening plans from the system’s own task force would be tailored to each school, and made in conjunction with the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Advisory Group.
“We understand that resuming face-to-face instruction cannot occur in a vacuum; each of our campuses is a complex ecosystem with regular engagement with their respective surrounding communities,” she said, Long Island’s Stony Brook University News reported.
“The Task Force is working collaboratively with the Governor Advisory Group to develop plans and a checklist of criteria that must be met before on-campus learning resumes.”
According to the survey:
- 65 percent said they would attend in-person classes.
- 31 percent said they would only attend virtually.
- 4 percent say they would withdraw from school.
The student’s enthusiasm comes despite warnings from public health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci of President Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force, warning that returning without a vaccine or more widespread testing could create a nightmare scenario of multiple outbreaks on campuses across the US.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told Congress Tuesday that development of effective vaccines for the coronavirus likely won’t happen before the fall semester begins.
“…The idea of having treatments available, or a vaccine, to facilitate the reentry of students into the fall term would be something of a bit of a bridge too far,” Fauci said, The Boston Globe reported.
But the survey showed that most students were not fans of virtual learning, with 45 percent saying they attended class less often and more than 70 percent saying they were easily distracted by their phone, computer and things going on at home, Axios reported.
Some students have asked their schools for tuition refunds because of sub-par online courses.
The poll was conducted May 8 to 10 from a sample of 835 college students with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.