Campus Outbreaks Have Muddied the Picture for Student Housing

Operators are experiencing big variances in occupancy rates for the fall semester.

Off-campus student housing operators have endured a rocky month as many universities around the country that brought students back for the fall semester suffered immediate COVID-19 outbreaks. That caused some schools to send students back home. It also led to other schools watching the carnage at the early openers to change their own plans for in-person classes.

One example of that was Michigan State University, which at the last minute scrapped plans to bring students back and instead has opted for online instruction.

“Effective immediately, we are asking undergraduate students who planned to live in our residence halls this fall to stay home and continue their education with Michigan State University remotely,” said Michigan State president Samuel Stanley in an August 18 letter to students.

So once again, the novel coronavirus is tearing up plans for the fall 2020 semester. Michigan State joins colleges like the schools in the University of California system, which had already announced that they would not hold class in person.

According to the latest tracking by the Chronicle of Higher Education and Davidson College’s College Crisis Initiative, just 2.3 percent of the 3,000 higher education institutions being tracked are fully in person for the fall semester. Another 19 percent are primarily in person, 16 percent are taking a hybrid approach, 27 percent are conducting classes primarily online and 6 percent are fully online. In addition, 24 percent of the institutions were still finalizing their plans. Those numbers have moved a lot from just a month ago.

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