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Should colleges and universities open in person for the Fall 2020 semester?

The COVID-19 pandemic has left the future of colleges and universities in a state of utter uncertainty. Across the world they are struggling to come up with safe and equitable strategies for reopening, but which one is best?

Yes – Students should be allowed back on campus for in-person classes

Colleges should reopen their doors in the fall and allow students to come back to campus. Nothing can beat the on-campus experience, and students deserve the opportunity to experience this.

Students learn better in person

Students are paying for a college education and therefore deserve the tools which enable them to learn. Colleges should have students back on campus so that they are able to get the most out of their education.

Colleges depend on the room and board charge

All colleges are already struggling financially due Covid-19. Colleges still have high campus operation and maintenance fees usually covered by room and board charges. Campuses that remain online will have to pay these bills from their own reserves.

Innovation and science depends on schools

Schools and universities are engines for technological innovations. Shutting them down reduces the chances that those institutions will help solve society's problems.

Local and national economies depend on schools

The economy cannot return to normal if academic settings are shuttered.

Some students depend on campus housing and facilities

Many students depend on student housing and accommodation during the year – a safe and stable space conducive to learning. The COVID-19 pandemic forced colleges shut down, leaving many students who come from precarious household situations to fear for their future.

Some students depend on the structure of in-person classes

Low-income students, foster students and students in dangerous situations depend on the relative safety and structure of the school for living accommodations and support.

No – Students should do the semester online and not come back to campus

The covid-19 pandemic is threat to everyone to various degrees, and all necessary precautions should be taken to limit the spread of infection.

It's impossible to plan ahead in such uncertain times

The Covid-19 pandemic changes on a daily basis, with new outbreaks popping up periodically across the world. Colleges have the impossible task of developing long term plans which will accommodate students, faculty, and staff through the various changes to the status quo.

Reopening college campuses is too dangerous

Repopulating college campuses threatens the lives of the faculty, staff, and surrounding communities. While most college students are healthy 18-22-year-olds, the other people involved in the campus operation are not, and neither are those living in the surrounding communities who will suffer alongside the colleges if an outbreak occurs.

On campus and in-person classes will only lead to outbreaks

The social nature of college life and classroom experience will make it almost impossible to effectively prevent the spread of the virus

Students will congregate and spread disease

In addition to academics, students come to school for the social experience. Most of these experiences (parties, games, relationships) will spread the disease and put others at risk.

Depends - On outside data

The risk presented by the question changes based on certain factors

Whether universities should open depends on community transmission

If too high in the community then no, if low then it may be a resonable risk.

Whether universities should open depends on testing capacity

If testing capacity in the community of the school is already at or near capacity, then no, otherwise it may present a reasonable risk.

Whether universities should open depends on student locations

Are students coming from areas with high levels of transmission? If yes, then the risk will be higher and you will need to analyze this data.

Whether universities should open depends on staff health concerns

If there are a high percentage of at risk staff, you might not want to reopen, or might face staffing shortages.

Whether universities should open depends on student health concerns

A high percentage of students with risk factors might require distance learning, as if they do not attend there could be a loss of income.

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 1 Sep 2020 at 08:25 UTC