Arguably, one of the worst things about the Covid-19 crisis for college communities is the uncertainty that it is producing. College administrators don’t know the best course of action for opening in the fall due to the hazards presented by the virus. The common mantra of late has been, “we just don’t know”. There has been much speculation about what colleges may do and various scenarios are being discussed and efficacies investigated.
I was quite surprised to see the results of a recent poll (as of May 11, 2020) conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education. It was tracking the intended plans for colleges from across the country for fall 2020. With all the talk of online options, altered schedules or delayed semesters I was shocked to see that 73% of the colleges polled (the list is pages long!) are “planning for in-person” classes for the fall. Granted this doesn’t mean any guarantees – the word “planning” leaves some wriggle room. But still, this suggests that the vast majority of colleges are planning to stay the course.
Only 1.9% are planning to go entirely on-line in the fall, 5% are considering a variety of scenarios, 5% are proposing a hybrid on-line and in-person model and 14% are “waiting to decide”.
I think that what this all means is that colleges are committed to doing all they can to get back to what they do best – create in-person communities where students and faculty can interact with one another. I am reassured to know that is the ultimate goal in the higher ed community at large. We will still hear the ominous words that they “just don’t know” what will happen but the vast majority of institutions are doing their best to return to in-person teaching. We should, in turn, plan for in-person learning. But, let’s keep an open mind to adjustments and altered practices that will need to be implemented to ensure safe conditions for students and staff alike.