Students

College students face financial strains, health concerns from pandemic ahead of fall semester

Brittany Goddard’s final semester at Howard University isn’t the dream ending she imagined in Washington, D.C. 

When the coronavirus pandemic shut down the U.S. economy in March, she scrambled to pack up her belongings since she had to be out of her dorm room within 48 hours. At the same time, she lost her part-time job at a catering company and still hasn’t received unemployment after filing for jobless benefits in April. 

She was set to study abroad in Barcelona over the summer, but those plans were upended due to the pandemic. And with just weeks to go before the fall semester begins, she’s worried about how she’ll pay the remaining balance of her tuition and fees – roughly $9,000 – since her financial aid won’t cover it at the private school.

“It’s heartbreaking. I’m a low-income student. I can’t afford tuition,” Goddard, 20, says, who’s created a GoFundMe page … Read More

Everything to know as students head back to class

As students head back to classes this fall – online, in-person or a hybrid of the two – millions of families are walking a tightrope, trying to balance safety with continued academic growth.

Most large public school districts have opted for fully online learning, but some have already returned to in-person classes and new cases of COVID-19 have already been reported at schools in Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. Colleges and universities, meanwhile, are increasingly altering earlier plans and opting for online fall semesters.

As the COVID-19 situation in the U.S. continues to evolve, we’re here to keep you updated on all the latest news and scientific developments. Check back for back-to-school resources, tips and tricks.

First, some resources: 

Can children get COVID-19?

Yes, children can catch COVID-19, but they are less likely to than adults. A study published in Science has shown that children under age 14 are between

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8 Back-to-School Mental Health Resources for BIPOC Students

Student sitting cross-legged with an open laptop in her lap against a pink background
Student sitting cross-legged with an open laptop in her lap against a pink background

Many parents and children are looking forward to back-to-school season and easing into a regular schedule once again. Student mental health was already a growing concern before COVID-19. Depression among adolescents in the U.S. has been increasing steadily over the years.

BIPOC students particularly may experience more negative circumstances such as racial/ethnic discrimination, marginalization, and lack of access to resources and services that contribute negatively to their mental health. There are many online resources that can help BIPOC students manage their mental health as back-to-school season begins.

Here are eight back-to-school mental health resources for BIPOC students:

The Steve Fund is an organization dedicated to supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color. The Fund works with colleges and universities, nonprofits, researchers, mental health experts, families, and young people to promote programs

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As Maryland public schools go online this fall, private and parochial schools ready to welcome students on campus

As Maryland’s public schools announced their decisions to keep their doors closed at least for the beginning of the school year, private schools have done just the reverse — arguing they have the ability to give families the in-person classes they want while keeping students safe.

Because of their small size, some experts say private and Catholic schools, are better able to make quick adjustments to their curriculum and often have more physical space to spread students out. But financial forces and teachers unions are also shaping public and private school decisions.

“The driver has been meeting the needs of our students,” said Donna Hargens, the superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Baltimore Archdiocese. “The interpersonal interaction is essential to the learning process and we know that some of our students struggled with remote learning especially those with learning needs.”

Public schools, meanwhile, often have to cope with tightly-packed classrooms

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Maryland colleges are planning for students to return to campus. But that could all change.

The incoming freshmen had barely taken their first tentative steps onto the campus of McDaniel College in Westminster when it became clear this would be no ordinary orientation.

Among the swag they received: face masks in McDaniel’s signature green. The setting: the Gill Center, normally home to the school’s Green Terror basketball team, where blue painter’s tape marked safe distances on the bleachers and hallways. The message: Welcome, and please stay 6 feet apart.

This wasn’t quite what Shakia McKinnon expected college would be like when as a student at Green Street Academy in Baltimore she plotted her next educational step.

But with the coronavirus looming overhead, students will find campus life upended: Much of class time will transfer from in-person to online. Many students will reside in single dormitory rooms rather than with roommates. And sports, concerts and other events have been canceled.

McKinnon is not deterred but rather

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Who decides when schools close if students, staff contract coronavirus or cases spike locally? Superintendents seek guidance from state

While the state’s plan to leave some school reopening details in the hands of individual districts allows for greater flexibility, it also could leave school administrators having to make tough decisions about how and when to close school buildings if students or staff contract the coronavirus or an individual community becomes immersed in an outbreak.

A number of districts say they want more guidance from the state on how to respond to confirmed infections or spikes in COVID-19 in the wider community. Districts plan to work with local health officials on contract tracing and say they’ll likely send home cohorts of students or close individual schools, but they have not developed benchmarks for those actions, or for opening things back up.

Gov. Ned Lamont Wednesday said the state would “have a strong recommendation that you close those schools” if the rate of positive coronavirus tests reached 10%, but stopped short

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Students in Chesapeake’s specialized programs push district for online option

As Chesapeake Public Schools works to figure out what the fall will look like, some students said one provision in the city’s reopening plan effectively forced them to return to the classroom.

They started an online petition that garnered hundreds of signatures this week, met with principals, program coordinators and top district officials in zoom calls and made an appearance on the local NPR affiliate.

On Friday, the school district said it is adjusting the language shared on a return-to-school plan for high school students enrolled in programs like International Baccalaureate at Oscar Smith, Governor’s STEM Academy at Grassfield and the Science and Medicine Academy at Deep Creek.

At first, students and families were told they’d need to choose the in-person option to remain enrolled.

But in interviews, the district says those students will be allowed to remain in their academies without losing a spot if they choose to learn

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ICE bans international students from entering U.S. for online classes

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Friday that international students who plan to solely enroll in online classes this fall will be barred from entering the country. The announcement came as the U.S. topped 4 million coronavirus cases and as colleges and universities roll out plans to shift to online learning for the fall semester.

“Nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the U.S. to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online,” ICE said in its press release.

The department also mandated that designated school officials are not to provide new international students with an I-20 form that declares their legal student status. This guidance includes new international students who are outside of the U.S. and want to take online-only classes

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New foreign students can’t enter US if courses online

A week after revoking sweeping new restrictions on international students, federal immigration officials on Friday announced that new foreign students will be barred from entering the United States if they plan to take their classes entirely online this fall.

In a memo to college officials, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said new students who were not already enrolled as of March 9 will “likely not be able to obtain” visas if they intend to take courses entirely online. The announcement primarily affects new students hoping to enroll at universities that will provide classes entirely online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

International students who are already in the U.S. or are returning from abroad and already have visas will still be allowed to take classes entirely online, according to the update, even if they begin instruction in-person but their schools move online in the face of a worsening outbreak.

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Methacton Offering Students On Premise And Online Options

EAGLEVILLE, PA — Methacton School District tentatively plans to have an in-person schooling option this fall, part of a dual option plan which also offers families and students the choice of taking classes online.

The announcement comes as Montgomery County officials recently issued their countywide school reopening guidelines, which require masks and discourage large gatherings, field trips and extracurricular activities.

Methacton’s reopening plan includes an Aug. 31 start date. All students and staff must wear a face covering in schools, unless they are seated at desks that are six feet apart. This, however, will not always be possible.

“While some health organizations recommend 6’ distance for grades K -12, it may not be practical for students 100% of the school day,” the district notes in their plan.

Otherwise, face coverings can only be removed outdoors when social distancing is possible, while eating and drinking in a socially distanced manner, and

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