Stimulus Plans, Pass/Fail and a Panda

Everything you need to know about higher ed and the coronavirus for Friday and the weekend in one easy-to-read package.

March 20, 2020
 
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Today is not much better than yesterday. The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. keeps going up. Americans are being asked to avoid all international travel. Restaurants, bars and other businesses continue to lay off employees as their foot traffic plummets.

But, at the very least, people are doing something. States are taking actions that could help us weather the storm. Families, friends and colleagues are being innovative about ways to connect. Animal shelters are seeing an uptick in foster volunteers, as those working from home crave a snuggle buddy.

Because animals can serve as a boon to our mental health, I'm going to leave this link to a site that streams live webcams focused on them here as today's palate cleanser.

Personally, I enjoy the panda cam.

I hope that helped. Let’s get to the news.

There's a lot of talk right now about how best to help higher education.

Senator Lamar Alexander, the Republican from Tennessee who leads the Senate education committee, is calling on Congress to help those with student loan debt in the third proposed COVID-19 relief bill. He wants to let student loan borrowers defer payments, as well as ensure students can keep their federal Pell Grants.

Some Senate Democrats are pushing even further and calling for a minimum of $10,000 in relief for those with federal student loans. Their plan also calls on the U.S. Department of Education to make payments on all federal student loans throughout the public health emergency period.

A bill that would let veterans keep their housing allowances from the GI Bill if their colleges went online due to the coronavirus is headed to President Donald Trump's desk after passing the House and the Senate.

Here’s a quick roundup of our latest stories, in case you’ve fallen a bit behind (we don’t blame you):

Lilah Burke asked whether moving to pass/fail in this crisis is the right move.

I wrote about how things look right now for open-access institutions.

Kery Murakami talked with advocates and others about the proposed federal stimulus plans and whether they'll be enough.

Students at Pomona College in California are refusing to leave campus, Greta Anderson reports, citing unsafe home conditions.

News From Elsewhere

More data are coming out that show everyone should be concerned about the coronavirus. The New York Times reports that many of the people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 infections are between the ages of 20 and 54.

New York University is asking students to leave their dorms, which would be reoutfitted into makeshift hospital rooms if necessary, according to a Times live update.

Higher education in Australia is experiencing the same abrupt changes as their counterparts in the U.S., Times Higher Education reports.

Percolating Thoughts

This is a time when everyone has an opinion. As journalists, we try not to have opinions, but we've gathered some interesting ones from others.

Feeling stressed? Who isn't? An associate professor of counseling psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison has some tips for how faculty members can cope.

An international enrollment director at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs argues that colleges aren't doing enough for their international students during this crisis.

Remember when the NCAA canceled their basketball tournaments? Yes, it feels like years ago. New America has a blog post up on how that move could impact funding that goes toward student athletes' educational needs.


Got any percolating thoughts, or notice any from others? Feel free to send them our way or comment below.

We’ll continue bringing you the news you need in this crazy time. Keep sending us your questions and story ideas. We’ll get through this together.

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