Short on time? Here’s an overview:
Universities are one of the most essential institutions for restoring a prosperous, thriving country, but their educational mission cannot possibly be fulfilled in an environment of uncertainty, fear, and disruption. Only a secure, real-time, economical COVID-19 testing protocol can prevent these otherwise predictable disruptions and make higher education a reliable, safe-aspossible place of learning for our future generations.
Fresh COVID-19 outbreaks create an existential threat to the university mission, forcing many to shut down again after tentatively re-opening. This tumultuous approach shortchanges all concerned – students, faculty, vendors, and parents. It bodes poorly for the future of disrupted universities, saddles them with enormous financial problems, and diminishes confidence in university decision-makers.
To reverse course and enable them to perform their vital mission of preparing youth for their future, universities need a more comprehensive, reliable approach that can rapidly, significantly, and securely mitigate the coronavirus threat.
It did not have to be like this, and it must not remain so. In 2020, a wealthy private university abruptly cancelled all in-person classes and moved to fully online instruction two weeks after reopening the campus for the Fall term. This occurred after discovery of a surge in coronavirus infections trace to just two off-campus party where students did not wear masks or practice social distancing. If a two-week shutdown does not contain the outbreak, students will be sent home again – and it’s back to the Spring of 2020, as though virus mitigation efforts have produced nothing in the interim.
Nor is that university an outlier. A large state university also abandoned in-person classes after bringing students back to campus. Hundreds of universities plan only online learning for the near future. Another state university caved early, its president directing students to stay home instead of moving into its dormitories, writing, “despite our best efforts and strong planning, it is unlikely we can prevent widespread transmission of COVID-19 between students if our undergraduates return to campus.”
In fact, the first university mentioned above did take significant precautions. All students had to submit a negative COVID-19 test within seven days before arriving back on campus. Not only were masks were mandatory, but orientation took place outdoors, in small groups, or virtually, while other measures included: deep-cleaning, stocking and distributing sanitizer thermometers and masks, more than 50,000 signs reminding students how to curtail contagion, auditoriums spaced for large classes, and assigned seats for contact tracing.