It has quickly become all too clear that the coronavirus or COVID-19 is a serious threat. Schools and businesses are closing in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus or flatten the curve. To that end, students are no longer living on campus or attending class in person. Instead, they’re back at their permanent residences, studying online. They are facing new difficulties that come with remote learning and adjusting to the new routines of social distancing.
Besides being an election year, 2020 is also a census year. You may wonder: What even is the census? Why should I care? Simply put, the census is a count of everyone living in the United States. The census consists of a few simple questions that gives a snapshot of the country’s population. It helps us understand our country, where services are needed, and is designed to inform decisions at all levels of government for the next decade.
Unfortunately, the pandemic we face deeply affects the census. The lifestyle changes that we are all experiencing due to the coronavirus could result in an incomplete census count and therefore hinder communities across the nation for the next 10 years. These decisions include: distribution of funds, voting districts, locations for transportation and housing assistance, and implementation of programs, services, and emergency response. Funds are distributed to a wide variety of community programs including financial aid for colleges, health care, food assistance, and employment services.
The census advertises that it counts everyone where they’re living on April 1st, and therein lies the problem. All of a sudden, cities across the nation are now facing shortages in their population as college students are no longer living on campus; perhaps they aren’t even living in their off-campus housing. This could result in the census numbers showing a huge discrepancy of college students in communities, who will feel the impact for years to come. It is now, more important than ever, for the census count to be accurate.
Rather than being counted where they live on April 1st, students count as though they were still attending classes in person. Which means any student that usually lives in a dorm will still count in their residence hall. Parents will not count these students on their census forms, as the school will be counting them. Students that usually live off campus will still count in their off-campus address and students that usually live with their parents will still count on their parents’ form. Multiple people living at the same address will be counted on the same census form.
How to Take the Census
In the digital age, it has never been easier to complete the census. For the first time in our nation’s history, the census is available to complete in three methods: online at My2020Census.gov, over the phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail after receiving the paper form. Anyone who responds in one of these ways will NOT receive a visit from a census taker. This is highly recommended and can be done while social distancing.
Everyone counts. You count! Complete the census today!