Before the pandemic, college students were active around campus catching up with fellow students while on their way to a crowded lecture hall and later meeting friends in a cafeteria for lunch. Between classes they may have studied in the library or even met up with their club later in the evening. Now, the behavior is greatly modified with social distancing guidelines creating a very different average day on campus. Many colleges and universities have started the year virtually; other campuses are partially open and even entirely open with guidelines in place. Read on to understand what the return to campus looks like for students in the time of COVID-19.
9 a.m. Lecture Hall
Grabbing some coffee and a mini muffin from a coffee cart on campus, our student makes his way to the first class of the day. The class size is 50 students, the lecture hall has 4 of every 5 seats taped off.
Before entering, our student is greeted with a sanitation check-in station. A Connection Zone magnetic markerboard surface shows a picture of the school mascot with a mask drawn over its face. There is a shelf with hand sanitizer and a thermometer. He scans his forehead as part of the mandatory temperature check.
10:30 a.m. Discussion Group
Next class, our student cuts across campus to meet with his discussion group of 12 students. The classroom layout consists of small groups of chairs with a flip-up desk surface. The chairs are spaced six feet apart and arranged in circles to allow students to safely converse.
The chairs have casters so the students start in groups of three to review the week’s discussions, then reconfigure for an all-class discussion. The professor can adjust to the changing room arrangements with a mobile lectern and go from one group to the next, while keeping a safe distance.
12 p.m. Lunch Break
Time to grab a bite, our student makes his way to the dining hall to meet with his friends for lunch. Gone are the self-serve buffets that are the standard of college dining, now there are several options of boxed lunches. Grabbing the turkey and ham sandwich box our student makes his way to a small, mobile table. These tables can be pushed together and easily separated allowing students to sit at the appropriate and safe distance. Reconfigurable walls are also stationed in the dining hall to serve as partitions and help guide traffic flow for safer distancing.
4 p.m. Late-Afternoon Study Session
The last class of the day is wrapped up however, the day isn’t over yet. Our student cuts across campus to the library for some study time. Hoping to get there before the rush so he can reserve an individual privacy pod. He wants to isolate himself and get through several chapters of organic chemistry. Pods like these are popular with students wanting individual space to allow for better concentration.
The privacy pods are arranged in rows. This arrangement subtly directs foot traffic helping staff keep tabs on the number of students flowing in and out of the library. When the pod is in use, a light goes on while a motion-activated ceiling fan provides the student with fresh air.
8 p.m. Movie Night
After several hours of reading, our student is ready to head back to his dorm. Meeting up in the common room for a movie night, the lounge furniture has been arranged into a theater-like layout with social distancing in mind.
Despite all of the changes and adaptations to his regular college routine, our student grabs a flavored seltzer water and bag of chips, kicks his feet up on an ottoman and settles in.
Evolving the College Experience
Much has changed since the beginning of the previous school year. When will colleges be able to operate the same way they used to is anyone’s guess? However, the college experience will continue, students will continue to learn, seeking out mentors and making new friends.
With some careful planning and design alterations, schools can support their students so students can create their own memorable experiences and cherish their college years. bluespace interiors is here to help.