COVID-19 is Still a Threat, Especially to Schools and Universities Around the Country

The North Star has dropped its paywall during this COVID-19 crisis so that pertinent information and analysis is available to everyone during this time. This is only possible because of the generous support of our members. We rely on these funds to pay our staff to continue to provide high-quality content. If you are able to support, we invite you to do so here.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 3 million Americans nationwide, is forcing schools and universities to make tough decisions ahead of the upcoming school year. Earlier this week, Harvard University and MIT sued the Trump administration following a directive that would force foreign students to leave the U.S. if their coursework was entirely online.

Schools and universities across the nation are debating whether to have students, faculty and staff return full time in the fall or to figure out a new method of teaching. While most universities have announced a hybrid approach of in-person classes and online courses, Harvard and the University of Southern California have both announced they are not planning for any in-person classes next school year.

Boston University Joins Harvard, MIT in Lawsuit

On July 8, Harvard and MIT announced they had filed a lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over a directive that would force foreign students to return home if their coursework was online-only. The measure, which was announced on July 6, would not allow foreign students on F-1 or M-1 visas to remain in the U.S. if their schools are operating entirely online.

“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” the announcement said. “If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

In a message to the university, Harvard president Lawrence S. Bacow said the order came unannounced and “its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness.”

Bacow continued: “It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors, and others.”

A day after filing the lawsuit, Boston University announced that it will support two lawsuits and congressional action to fight the federal immigration guidance. BU President Robert A. Brown directed university officials to join an amicus brief being filed in support of the lawsuit by Harvard and MIR against ICE. Brown also wrote to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf that the policy be withdrawn.

“At Boston University, we have been working tirelessly so that our international undergraduate and graduate students have quality options so they can continue to make progress in their students through the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brown told BU Today. “The new guidance moves us in precisely the wrong direction, limiting student choices and unfairly forcing international students to leave the country unless they are attending in-person classes.”

Trump Threatens Funding

Despite the continuous threat of the pandemic, the Trump administration has been adamant that students get back in classrooms. President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos threatened to cut federal funding if schools don’t fully physically re-open, POLITICO reported.

“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!” the president tweeted on July 8.

What Trump failed to mention was the drastically lower number of cases in each of those countries and the serious precautions most European countries, with the exception of Sweden, have taken to curb the spread of the deadly disease.

Unlike its neighbors, Sweden has allowed its citizens to carry on without any precautions during the pandemic. It has resulted in thousands of deaths compared to countries that have locked down and its economy has barely fared better.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has seen more than 3 million cases nationwide with thousands of cases emerging in Florida, Texas, California and other Southern states. More than 130,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

A recent analysis by The New York Times revealed that Black and Latinx people are much more likely to be harmed by COVID-19 than any other race. Data obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that Black and Latinx people are disproportionately affected by the virus across the country, in rural, suburban and urban areas, and across all age groups, The New York Times reported.

Latinxs and African Americans are three times more likely to become more infected and nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white people, according to the data. This would likely only be exaggerated among children in Black and Latinx communities who usually attend schools that are more crowded and have less resources.


At the end of each story we publish about the coronavirus, we are now sharing the following information:

Coronavirus 411

The novel coronavirus, officially named SARS-CoV-2, is a virus that causes a number of respiratory illnesses, including lung lesions and pneumonia. The virus, which causes COVID-19, spreads easily from person to person through the air when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes.

COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China and has spread to 188 countries. More than 12.1 million people around the world have become infected and more than 550,000 people have died. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic.

President Donald Trump declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency on March 13. Less than two weeks later, on March 26, the United States surpassed China in the number of COVID-19 cases. The U.S. now has 3.07 million confirmed cases and more than 132,000 deaths.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can take between two to 14 days to appear. The CDC recommends calling your doctor if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms, including fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms include chills, repeated shaking, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.

In order to keep yourself and others safe, be sure to wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing and avoid touching your face. The CDC is recommending that gatherings of 50 people or more be canceled for the next eight weeks. Click here for information on how to prepare for a quarantine.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.