Back-to-school might have been a stressful season in previous years, but in 2020, back-to-school is a social and political hot button issue. And while the debate about K-12 schools reopenings continues, some colleges are back in session and already scrambling because of new COVID-19 infections.
This week has seen significant changes at universities that originally opted for in-person classes. NBC’s 9NEWS reported 155 students were quarantined at Colorado College on Monday and the University of Kentucky has 189 positive cases as of August 15th.
The University of Notre Dame has gone online for at least 2 weeks. University president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said in a press release, “For the past week, [the virus] has been winning. Let us as the Fighting Irish join together to contain it.” The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has also moved their undergraduate classes online. Michigan State University never returned students to school, opting to go online just before the year was meant to start.
Some schools are continuing with their in-person classes, however. NBC 12 NEWS reported that Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University will both be opening. Many elements of college life pose a risk during the pandemic. Dorms have had to be rethought, classrooms redesigned, and the social aspects of college radically changed. The New York Times has tracked 251 cases of COVID-19 back to activities at fraternities and sororities.
The Chronicle of Higher Education surveyed nearly 3,000 schools and found that 27% would be primarily online, 20% would be primarily in person and 16% opted for a hybrid model. At the time of the survey, 24% of the schools were still uncertain what they were doing. This data was gathered with The College Crisis Initiative (C2i) out of Davidson College. C2i has been tracking reopening plans for 4-year colleges.