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SurveyMonkey poll: COVID-19 and the return to campus for college students

SurveyMonkey poll: COVID-19 and the return to campus for college students

Students in higher education are seeing a path forward

About one quarter (26%) of currently enrolled college and university students in the U.S. say they are already back on campus or expect to return this summer, and another 43% say they will go back to campus full-time in Fall 2021, according to a new SurveyMonkey poll.

Students who attend  private universities (19%) and public universities (14%) are more likely than those who attend community colleges (7%) to already be back on campus.

Majority are at least somewhat comfortable returning to in-person classes this Fall

Looking ahead, nearly half (48%) of students who have had their classes cancelled, are at least very comfortable attending in-person classes in the Fall of 2021. Fully 82% of students say they are extremely, very, or somewhat comfortable, including 21% who are “extremely comfortable.” This number is lower among community college students (16%) than among students who attend public universities (24%) or public universities (22%).

Fewer college students now, compared to March 2020, say the COVID-19 outbreak has been “Very disruptive” for their usual school experience (39% vs. 61%); more students now than a year ago say the pandemic has been “somewhat disruptive” (41% vs. 25%).

Are students over the virtual classroom? If given the choice in the future, 43% would take very few or no online classes in the future.

  • Half of those who took all in-person classes before the pandemic would opt for few or no online classes. 
  • Just 32% of those who did hybrid learning before COVID would agree. 

This rejection of online classes in the future could be because those who were used to in-person classes struggle with some parts of virtual education more than those used to hybrid schooling.  Specifically, 

  • Losing contact with professors/instructors (54% in-person pre-COVID, vs. 42% hybrid pre-COVID)
  • Being physically isolated from classmates (50% in-person vs. 42% hybrid)

Options, flexibility, and safety will be important going forward

Students who haven’t yet returned to class in-person would like to see their colleges and universities implement new policies before they come back. Vaccines are top of mind for many: 

  • 63% want faculty/staff to be required to get vaccinated 
  • 55% want their schools to require this of students 

Specifically among students whose in-person classes have been canceled due to covid, they want...

  • 49% sanitizer in each classroom
  • 47% mandatory masking
  • 45% options to watch lectures and complete assignments and exams online
  • 44% on-campus Covid-19 testing to be available

Over nine in 10 of those already vaccinated say they feel safe attending in-person classes. Even still, less than four in 10 (38%) say they will feel “very safe” returning to in-person class now that they are vaccinated. In fact, 30% of the already vaccinated students’ biggest worry about returning to class is contracting COVID-19.

Read more about our polling methodology here
Click through all the results in the interactive toplines below: