By Suzannah Young
As stores temporarily close across the country and large gatherings are cancelled, Americans can count on one part of their lives this year to remain (relatively) unchanged. That is participating in the 2020 U.S. Census.
According to a press release statement from the U.S. Census Bureau on March 11, Covid-19's impact will be relatively low because with today’s technology, it is easier than ever for people to respond to the questionnaire online, via phone, or by mail – methods that eliminate the need for in-person contact.
The first set in a series of several invitations were sent out to residents from March 12-20 and citizens are encouraged to follow the instructions to either fill out the questionnaire online or via phone.
Both the online questionnaire and the phone operators are available in a total of 12 different languages other than English. According to the Bureau, this ensures that 99 percent of U.S. households can respond in their preferred languages.
Nonetheless, there are still some repercussions.
On March 28, the Census Bureau released another press release statement that moved the previous suspension date for field operations for the census from April 1 to April 15.
Despite this delay in field operations, the Bureau still plans on having the census completed by July 31.
“The Census Bureau continues to evaluate all 2020 Census field operations, and will communicate any further updates as soon as possible,” the statement said.
As we all know, however, being a college student makes you special.
Students are so special that the Census Bureau released a statement - and video - on March 15, to address specifically how it will proceed with counting students, and what students should do to ensure they are counted.
“Per the Census Bureau’s residence criteria, in most cases students living away from home at school should be counted at school, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.
This feat could be problematic, however, as most college students around the country have returned home due to the cancellation of all schools for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.
The Census Bureau is apparently tackling this issue by asking the schools to be the method through which students receive and complete their census information.
“In general, students in colleges and universities temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 virus will still be counted as part of this process,” the statement from the Bureau said. “Even if they are home on census day, April 1, they should be counted according to the residence criteria which states they should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time.”
As a Barry student, even if you are not from the state of Florida and you live somewhere else during the break, the census will count you as a Florida resident and you will be asked to fill out your portion of the census via the method chosen and presented to you by your school.
This notion applies only to those students who live in on-campus housing.
Nonetheless, participating in the census reaps huge benefits.
According to the Bureau, the results of the census are used to not only draw congressional lines and help determine federal funding for specific areas based on demographics and needs as shown by data, but they can also benefit your community in several ways.
Census data can also determine how money is used for programs in rural areas, restoring wildlife initiatives, prevent child abuse, and provide housing assistance for older adults among other things.
Overall, although COVID-19 has taken its toll on the Census, the Census Bureau is staying ahead of the game and assures that the 2020 U.S. Census will be completed in both a timely and accurate manner.