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

Some colleges that initially announced they would be resuming in-person classes have had to change plans as localised coronavirus outbreaks surge in parts of the US. Colleges such as Miami University, Washington State University, and George Washington University, have switched from in-person classes to entirely online platforms as a result of resurgent coronavirus outbreaks.[1][2] The trajectory of the pandemic has been impossible to predict. Every few days something new appears and throws a wrench into the possible reopening plans which colleges, as well as other businesses, have been making for their reopening. This has made it difficult for colleges to effectively plan for students futures because no one knows what the country and the virus will look like in the near future. Colleges were initially optimistic about their ability to bring students back to campus for in-person learning, but there is too much uncertainty in the future to be able to plan for every possible outcome while also keeping students, professors, and staff safe. The most stable plan is for colleges to announce online learning for the fall 2020 semester because the virus is too unpredictable for colleges to make big, long term plan of bringing students back to campus. No one wants to be sent home again like they were in March what the virus first began.

Counter arguments

Resilience and adaptability are the only ways forward in the Covid-19 reality, and although it will be hard, colleges and universities cannot simply close up shop and call it a day. Colleges and university which have decided to allow students to return to campus for in-person classes have found ways of adapting to the situation, and have outlined contingency plans if (and when) the state of the pandemic changes. Coursera released a guide for how colleges and universities can adapt to the current situation.[3] Colleges will need to provide ample support to professors and students as they transition to new learning models, and should consider working with educational consultant firms to implement the necessary changes. The report[3] stresses the need for transparent communication between all those involved on campus, including, administrators, faculty and staff, and students. Maximising communication and transparency will reduce the likelihood of errors and complications in an already highly sensitive setting. Everyone has a role to play for an effective reopening, and the administration especially needs to be realistic about what they can and can't do. Course structure, content, and delivery will need to be reimagined, as well as campus life. There are plenty of options available, some better than others, for how colleges and universities can offer students a college experience, therefore it is at least worthwhile to try.


Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Thursday, 3 Sep 2020 at 22:51 UTC

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