If colleges remain shut down this fall, it would affect nearly 20 million students and 3 million employees. But reopening without safeguards would be equally disastrous, jeopardizing lives and forcing more lockdowns.
Christina Paxson, an economist and president of Brown University, told Axios that plans are in place. “I stand by my goal of bringing students back to campus if I can do so safely,” she said.
According to Axios, her plans to reopen the campus include:
- Testing students when they come in and testing both staff and students if anyone shows symptoms. “Anyone who tests positive, we would have space set aside for quarantine and isolation,” said Paxson.
- Staging semesters. Paxon said she’s thinking of having three semesters: fall, spring and summer. “Students would do two out of three so we have about three-quarters of our students taking classes at any one time,” she told Axios.
- Large lectures would be held online, with students still able to meet in person for smaller discussions.
- Larger lecture halls will hold smaller classes, allowing for proper social distancing.
- Dorm rooms would only hold single occupants, with extra housing rented or purchased by the university off campus.
- Dining halls would be limited to takeout or open in shifts.
Paxson said that sports programs would most likely be put on hold.
“It’s hard to imagine putting 60 students on a bus or place, sending them to another campus where they interact very closely with 50 or 60 students on the other school’s team, and then put them back in the bus or place and bring them back to campus,” she told Axios.
According to Inside Higher Ed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance May 19 for colleges to reopen their campuses. Some of the recommendations include promoting good “respiratory etiquette” including the wearing of face masks, proper hand hygiene and encouraging self-isolation of staff and students who have any symptoms of illness.
The CDC said colleges should be diligent in cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and closing communal spaces such as dining halls, game rooms, exercise rooms and lounges.
In addition, the agency suggested using physical signs, such as tape on floors and sidewalks to encourage people to remain at least six feet apart.
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