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  • Cyrus Beschloss

Most students believe school re-opening was the wrong choice



When higher ed's gatekeepers sat down this summer to chart the treacherous future of COVID-on-campus, a diverse slate of re-open plans emerged. Some lean on virtual learning, others aim for in-person classes (plus the hybrid middle-ground), but all are banking on student buy-in to their campuses' COVID codes.


Now that students have settled into their improvised accommodations, we have the first reading on how on-campus learning works amid Coronavirus. The key questions:

  • Have students stuck to safe practices?

  • How is learning going?

  • Has Coronavirus spread widely?

  • Was on-campus learning worth the heavy lift?


The results of the latest Axios/College Reaction Coronavirus poll tell a checkered story.


Students are largely avoiding highest-risk behavior: Only 12% of students have gone to a party.

• But, small-scale shindigs can easily send the virus to a critical chunk of the student body. It only takes a few.


Learning isn't landing: Despite herculean effort by teachers, administrators and support staff, in-person learning options and the virtual experience have drawn low reviews.


Split on safety views: Of those whose campuses allowed students on campus (at any capacity), 51% of students say it was the wrong choice. That includes students who've opted to return to campus themselves and students who are surveying the drama via Zoom.



Here are the key findings, and the full toplines:



Axios/College Reaction Poll | n= 808 | Sept. 15-16 | m.o.e = 3.4

Key findings:


- 51% of college students say it was the wrong choice for their college to allow students on campus.


- 60% of college students are learning less in current class format.


- Of those on campus, 50% have gathered with friends without masks.


- Of those on campus, 57% have seen parties in progress and 12% of college students have attended an on-campus party.


- Of those on campus, 42% know someone who's contracted COVID-19 on campus

- 84% of students say they'd take an FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine, (compared to 65% of the general public)




Full topline results:


Since arriving on campus have you:

  • Gone to class in person:  49%

  • Seen a party: 57%

  • Know someone who's contracted COVID:   

  • Gathered with friends without masks:     50%

  • Dined in a restaurant or gone to a bar:   49%

  • Attended a party:     12%


Compared to traditional schooling, how has your online learning experience been?

  • Learning more: 6%

  • Learning less: 60%

  • Learning the same: 33%

  • Taking all classes in person: 1%



Would you take a free, FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine?

  • Yes: 82%

  • No: 18%


Do you think it was the right choice for your campus to allow students on campus?

  • Yes: 46%

  • No: 51%

  • My school isn't: 3%