Colleges around the U.S. are making plans to welcome students back to campus this fall — afraid they'll be headed for financial catastrophe if they remain closed, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.
- Why it matters: Social distancing could still be in place, and medical experts say a second wave of coronavirus cases is possible in the fall. But for many universities, the revenue blows that would come with an online semester are too severe to weather. They've got no option but to figure out how to reopen.
Among the schools that have announced intentions to open in the fall are Purdue, the University of Nebraska, the University of Alabama, the University of North Carolina and Baylor.
Over the past week, several university presidents revealed ways they hope to pull off an on-campus fall:
- The capability to test all students upon arrival and regularly thereafter is critical, Brown President Christina Paxson wrote in a New York Times op-ed.
- Large lecture classes would likely continue to be held online, and athletic events would go on without spectators.
- To limit students' exposure to one another, some universities are considering inviting a smaller number of students to campus — just freshmen for whom an on-campus orientation is key, for example — and spreading them out across dorm facilities.
- Schools may have to ban social gatherings above a certain size, and limit students' ability to have visitors on campus or travel away from school on breaks, Purdue President Mitch Daniels wrote.
Telling millions of college students — many of whom are experiencing their first taste of independence — that they can't see friends and throw parties is easier said than done.
- Think of the thousands of students who went on spring break trips and crowded beaches even after several states had put social-distancing guidelines in place.
On top of that, college campuses are designed to be dense environments where students eat, live and learn together — and mix and mingle with all types of people through different dorm assignments, extracurriculars and seminars.
- To isolate students is "contrary to the ideas of a liberal education," says Graeme Wood, a Yale professor and correspondent for The Atlantic. 'That's not a college experience that's working the way it's supposed to."
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