Reopening Colleges: Dr. Fauci Weighs In

reopening colleges

The leading expert on all things COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, discussed possible scenarios related to reopening colleges and universities in a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

One of the models has been to essentially test all the students before they come in, just so that you know what the baseline of infection is. Test them both to see if they’re actually infected with tests for the virus, as well as — depending upon the technology at the time — antibodies to see if they had been previously exposed.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Does Anthony Fauci Think Colleges Should Reopen? We Asked Him, The Chronicle of Higher Education

But How About A Real Life Example

I am a long-time resident of Blacksburg, Virginia, a small town with a big state university. The town-gown relationship is critical to our local economy. The Wall Street Journal even used us as an example.

Here, we continue to feel the impact — economically, culturally, and socially — that the COVID-19 pandemic has made on our community. The mass exodus of students in March due to the closing of campus and the subsequent movement to online classes for the rest of the semester left our community stunned. We’re always wondering if the university would return to “normal” in August when fall semester begins. It’s safe to say the normal we knew is gone and the new normal is yet to be defined.

In our virtual town hall and committee meetings, we listen to the data points affecting our community. We explore the “what-ifs,” and ask more questions than there are currently answers for. We’re acutely aware that the health of our community is directly related to “how” the university reopens. Like other college communities, parents, students, and university employees, we are waiting to learn what “safe reopening” looks like.

RELATED: What Has Your College Decided to Do for Fall 2020?

Testing, distancing and demography are the primary themes of the reopening discussion. Testing when students return and then routinely testing a select population as often as every two weeks is another model Dr. Fauci says is being considered. Where your college is located and the level of infection in that community are also factors that can impact the model a university chooses. There is no one-sized-solution fits all.

Regardless of the model our local university adopts, we have a new normal. At least for now. Reopening colleges is likely to include masks and as much social distancing as students can manage.


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