How to Help Students Affected by COVID-19
If there is one thing that the human race has proved time and time again, it is that, in the face of great crisis, people are capable of coming together to make life better for each other. As the COVID-19 (more commonly called “coronavirus”) pandemic begins to affect the world, and more universities are shut down, many college students are wondering what comes next for them. For those that are being told to leave university housing with nowhere else to go, those who rely on dining halls that are now shuttered, those who have unsafe home environments, or those who have no way to complete classes from home, it is a confusing and anxiety-ridden time.
Organizations like The Hope Center are doing their best to compile resources for these students and provide them with relief to get them through this time. The consequences of not aiding the students in need (both right now and all of the time) is dropping out at best and homelessness and hunger at worst. Today, we’re going over The Hope Center’s guide to helping students from COVID-19 affected campuses.
First, the guide stresses the importance of school officials reaching out to their students to emphasize staying connected as a community while emphasizing physical distancing. Letting students know that they are still cared for and part of an organization that has their best interests at heart can make it easier for students to seek assistance where they need it, as well as preventing potential stopping-out.
It is crucial that college staff provide their student body with resources addressing the need for medical care, housing, and food. The Hope Center’s guide advocates for giving students the tools to see if they are eligible for medicaid, and, if not, providing them with a list of nearby sliding-scale providers from which they can get healthcare. For food, the guide states that campus food pantries must stay open. Communicate to students about their options before closing dining halls, including how to sign up for government programs such as SNAP. Students can find food bank locations at https://www.auntbertha.com/ or by calling 1(800) 5-HUNGRY.
Housing insecurity is a serious issue in higher education. According to The Hope Center’s most recent survey, nearly half of students were housing insecure, and 17% had experienced homelessness within the past year. These statistics make closing colleges with nowhere else for students to go a non-starter. Giving students the option to stay in campus housing while advocating for those who can leave to do so is a great way for colleges to practice good social distancing while leaving students with a place to stay. Provide even the students who leave with resources, such as where to sign up for U-Haul’s free 30 day storage, or the Domestic Violence Hotline, available via chat or phone if they are in danger from returning home. Remember that students who were working on-campus are now unemployed and that other students may lose their place to stay due to increased need. Providing a safe home for all students if they need one is the best way for colleges to take care of their student body during this time.
Need does not go away when we are not in crisis. It only magnifies when we are. If you are employed at a college, please use the above resources to provide for your student body.
Read the full guide here.