"As soon as I heard that the freshman class would be invited again, I decided to go," said 18-year-old Ahmad Alsheikh of his decision to attend college in person this fall.
Although Alsheikh has been on campus since September, he communicates with his classmates mostly online.
The Harvard freshman says he is careful to follow the school's guidelines for social distancing and social gathering restrictions on fewer than 10 people.
Ahmad Alsheikh, 18, was inducted into the Harvard class in 2024.
Source: Ahmad Alsheikh
There are "a lot of virtual meet and greets," he said. "With the help of community building events through Zoom, I was able to create social interactions and meet colleagues personally in the first few years."
To date, Harvard has only reported 24 positive cases of Covid-19 among its students, and only a limited number of students are admitted to the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus.
Not every college experience works.
Overall, 87% of institutions have combined face-to-face and virtual learning in response to the public health crisis. This is according to a report by the Institute of International Education, which is based on data collected in July from more than 500 colleges and universities in the US.
About 65% of current college students have been tested for Covid-19 since returning to school, and 12% were positive by the first week of November – almost twice the nationwide positivity rate during that period, according to a recent survey by Testing. com of 1,000 students currently on campus to study in person.
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While back on campus, nearly half, or 48%, of college students went to parties despite social distancing guidelines, and 20% of them tested positive for Covid-19, the report said.
Also, 5% of students said they would not be tested or quarantined if they found out they were at a party with classmates who tested positive.
However, the vast majority of students still say they prefer in-person tuition to distance learning, especially at the same high cost.
At the same time, such behavior is causing locations across the country, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Notre Dame, to close after spikes in cases related to fraternities, sororities, and off-campus parties .
It remains to be seen whether the facilities will be open for the spring semester.
A week before Thanksgiving, coronavirus cases in the United States are still on the rise. According to a CNBC analysis of the John Hopkins data, the national mean of daily new infections within seven days is 161,165 – 26% higher than a week ago.
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