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.
Bringing an entire, or even a partial, student population back to campus encourages the spread of the virus and risks bringing Covid-19 into the college's surrounding areas. Students will be arriving from all over the country (and internationally) to resume in-person classes, and some of them will inevitably bring Covid-19 with them. Opening college campuses to students in the fall risks creating thousands of outbreaks around colleges across the country. College-based outbreaks are not trivial matters, because although young people have a much lower risk of death, many young and healthy people have suffered a severe illness. Covid-19 is known to cause significant long term issues in young and healthy people, including problems to the kidneys and heart, as well as neurological issues. More importantly, students are not the only people to consider. Most other campus workers, including administrators, cleaning staff, professors will be placed at risk merely by being on campus, and their age makes them much more susceptible to the virus. Additionally, colleges need to consider the implications of an outbreak on their surrounding area, especially rural towns that don't have the medical capacity to handle an outbreak. Colleges are optimistic about their ability to contain the virus. Social distancing, hybrid teaching, restricted movement, and thorough 'test-trace-isolate' measures will be implemented, but infections will inevitably emerge. Having students return to campus poses a big risk to everyone who lives on or near the college. It is therefore too dangerous to have students return to campus for in-person classes in the Fall 2020 semester.
A study from Cornell University believes that having students return to campus will actually be safer for students than remaining remote. Their study suggests that "a combination of contact tracing, asymptomatic surveillance, and low initial prevalence (supported through testing students prior to, and upon, returning to campus) can achieve meaningful control over outbreaks on Cornell’s Ithaca campus in the fall semester." This is especially the case for students who do not have stable or safe home environments, live with frontline workers, or come from high infection areas. Colleges have the resources to provide safe living spaces for their students, making college campuses potentially safer spaces than individual homes. Colleges legally have to comply with federal and state guidelines in order to reopen, therefore they will be able to provide all the necessary protective equipment that ordinary people may not have access to.
It is important to minimize danger and harm.