Covid-19 impacts the social side of campus life

Covid-19 impacts the social side of campus life

The pandemic has altered and impacted campus life for students all over the world. The new Covid-19 variant, dubbed a super spreader and termed 501.v2, is now proven to affect young people more than the previous strain of the virus.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize cautioned young people to wear masks, regularly sanitise their hands, and practice social distancing against the spread of the virus.

He added that clinicians had also warned that things have changed and that young, previously healthy people, are now becoming very sick.

So, with the new super-spreader Covid-19 strain around and also lockdown, what does this mean for students who are preparing to start a new learning chapter in 2021 and who are looking forward to the campus experience?

For many students, 2020 was a year of lost progress, pent-up energy, no graduation ceremonies and no social interaction with friends. This year’s undergraduates will experience a first year like no other, as higher learning institutes try to keep their students and staff safe while still offering the best learning experience despite the pandemic.

One of the core reasons why students enrol in universities is to access the full “campus experience” which is, primarily, a social experience. Online learning is necessary during these times. However, it is also proving to be far from satisfactory, as students yearn for each other’s company and social interaction – the campus experience.

When the pandemic forced all learning institutions to close and move to online classes early last year, all students were forced to become online learners. It is believed that most of these students will continue with online learning, as they can work and study, and students will be more open to learning in alternative ways.

According to the World Economic Forum, most universities are focussed on the base minimal lifeline: keeping enrolment intact above all else as their business model is under threat.

Studies show that higher education students are more likely to join civic societies and social organisations.

However, the virus threatens social interactions and relationships, and lockdowns create an altered world of isolated individuals who now experience fewer opportunities to congregate than before.

* This article was first published in iol.