Coronavirus is changing how university works. What does the future hold for students?

Alexandra Fox was on track to finish her master of science in occupational therapy in June — then the novel coronavirus outbreak hit.

Fox, 30, has been working towards this goal for two years at Dalhousie University, and she only needs 300 more hours of clinic work to finish the degree.

Although it’s currently a topic of debate among the professors and administrators at her institution, students aren’t typically allowed to complete clinical hours online. If this rule remains, Fox could be unable to work in her field for another year.

“My plan was to finish my degree and start working as soon as I could,” she said.

“It’s a double-edged sword: I want to graduate on time, but I also don’t want to lose out on 300 clinical hours of learning in order to do that.”

When she finishes this degree, Fox will have roughly $106,000 in student debt. She previously budgeted to have her expenses covered until she started work in July, but now everything is up in the air.

“The ambiguity of all of this has been extremely stressful,” she said.

Fox is far from alone in all of this. The COVID-19 outbreak has led to the closure of university and college campuses across the country, forcing classes online where possible, significantly impacting the lives of many students.

Duaa Zahra, a fourth-year undergraduate student in the theatre production and design program at Ryerson University in Toronto, is struggling with the school’s move to online-only classes.

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