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While university researchers have warned that Australia’s school students are facing a decline in performance due to online learning, such issues have not deterred universities in the United States from staying online at least one more semester.
US universities emptied their lecture halls and dorms back in March and transitioned into online learning for the remainder of the spring semester as lockdown orders and social distancing started.
As most campuses will remain closed through the summer (such as Boston University or University of Pittsburgh), a small number of colleges have announced their intention to open their campuses in the fall - although mostly online - according to Inside Higher Ed.
In fact, according to CNN, universities are beginning to consider the possibility of reporting in-person classes until 2021 and staying online : Boston University and Harvard are considering maintaining online learning through the fall semester if recommended by health authorities. Oregon state has already moved summer courses online and although they are hoping they will be able to open campuses in the fall of 2020, their spokesman was quoted as saying that “Hope is not a strategy”. California State University is also planning to maintain online learning through the fall semester and Ithaca College in New York will only go back to in-person classes in October. Some universities are planning to bring students back but also shorten semesters, cancel fall break and end in-person classes after Thanksgiving (to avoid massive travel by students going back home for the break): South Carolina, Purdue, Creighton University, Rice University and Notre-Dame are planning exactly that.
Epidemiologists are encouraging universities to prepare for the unexpected and some even suggest "open and close" waves until 2022, unless a vaccine is found before.
However, maintaining online classes through the fall semester might be an actual deterrent for incoming students, according to a Carnegie Dartley Survey.According to the survey, about 33% of high school seniors out of 2800 are likely to defer or cancel admission offers if the fall semester is online.
As a national survey from ACE and the AACRAO reports, 83% of the currently enrolled US college students still plan to enrol in the fall.