As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to progress, many companies and institutions need to make changes to their operations. Some have no choice but to shut down entirely, while others postpone work until further notice. College campuses tell a similar story. Without students, new campus developments may take a hit.
Take a look at how universities have adjusted their campus construction projects – and what that means for the future.
The Current State of Universities
Across the country, almost all colleges have closed indefinitely because of coronavirus. While most plan to reopen for the fall semester, city-based universities, like Boston University, aren't sure about their next steps. In a time of uncertainty, many institutions can't know what's to come. That's why they've followed guidelines to protect their students and staff.
Unfortunately, those measures cause reduced revenue – and to battle those cuts, several colleges intend to impost moratoriums on raises and freeze potential hires. Similarly, due to low enrollment rates, a few universities can't manage.
For example, Ohio University decided to shut down one of their cafeterias. It's a move that should save them more than $1 million, even though they completed renovations two years ago.
Methods like these may be necessary to stave off significant financial issues.
What Happens to Renovations?
It's no secret that colleges need to perform constant updates. They build new residence halls, student unions and more – all as a way to maintain capacities and appearances. That said, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into many 2020 graduates' plans. A lot of prospective students fear that they won't be able to afford school anymore or choose to take a gap year instead.
As a result, colleges can no longer commit to massive projects. Typically, universities establish long-term, concise plans for their renovations. Now, many need to reach out to their partners for budget estimates, as they aren't sure if they can pay for large remodels. Used equipment could save colleges money, which may be a decision that many institutions make down the line.
Coronavirus school closures could even affect projects that can continue throughout the next few months. If construction firms experience material shortages, they won't be able to finish on time. For larger campuses, that lack of progress can pose issues. When workers can't complete dormitories by the end of August, students can't use them.
How Colleges Intend to Move Forward
Though it's not a desirable situation, several institutions can move forward. Usually, construction workers need to wait for students to leave campus before they start their summer projects. Due to COVID-19, they can move up their timelines. A lot of universities have also begun to use their empty dorms to house potentially sick individuals as hospitals continue to become overwhelmed.
In any case, experts believe that these hiccups won't last past summer. Most meetings have moved to Zoom, so it's not easy to get everyone together at once to decide on a start date. That said, colleges can use that extra time as a cushion. Universities may need to be more careful and methodical about how they approach remodels, but they can happen.
States like New Jersey have halted all non-essential construction projects, so not everyone knows what to expect. Many states continue to consider construction workers essential – but those guidelines could change as soon as tomorrow. As many people say, it's an unpredictable time. For now, most campus construction will need to wait a few months or more before they can begin.
The Future Isn't Certain for Campus Construction
Right now, it's nearly impossible for us to predict what's next. With a few strategic moves, universities may not suffer too much, but coronavirus school closures will continue to halt renovations. The way our colleges look may need to change permanently because of these circumstances.