Officials and administrations of Purdue University are planning to reopen the campus for in-person classes come fall 2020, with President Mitch Daniels reportedly saying that the coronavirus “poses close to zero lethal threat” to younger people.

Reported in the Lafayette Journal & Courier, the Indiana university is poised to move away from virtual learning to resume in-person learning. 

Purdue was among the first wave of colleges to shift from in-person classes, moving its instruction online in early March.

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With some states starting to slowly reopen, Daniels appears ready to have the school follow suit. 

“I can tell you for the moment, there is strong, strong interest for a Purdue education for this fall,” Daniels said to the university Senate on April 20. “We have every intention of being on campus this fall. We are sober about the challenges that will bring. We believe in the value of the on-campus experience, and we’re determined, if we’re permitted to do so by the public authorities and medical circumstances. If at all possible, we intend to be open and operating.”

In a separate letter, Daniels described several measures the school intends to adopt to safely introduce students back on campus. This includes spreading out class scheduling to reduce their size, increasing online instruction options, and pretesting students and staff for infection and monitoring results.

Other universities are anxious to resume live classes, with Brown University President Christina Paxson saying the reopening of higher education facilities “should be a national priority.”

“Institutions should develop public health plans now that build on three basic elements of controlling the spread of infection: test, trace and separate,” she wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times.

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Other schools that plan on reopening in the fall include The University of Mary Washington in Virginia and William Jewell College in Missouri, according to InsideHigherEd. USA Today writes that the University of Missouri and Clemson University in South Carolina are also developing reopening plans. 

The choice for colleges and universities to reopen in the fall is a pressing decision for both students and faculty. A report in NPR examines the adverse financial impact schools will experience if they remain closed, citing hiring freezes and a lack of tuition funding that leaves universities unable to provide health care or campus jobs. 

W. Joseph King, president of Lyon College in Arkansas, told NPR that he believes it is still “50/50 on whether the fall semester looks normal,” saying regardless of whether the school reopens virtually or offers in-person classes, there will still be a financial toll from the coronavirus closures.

To support struggling colleges and universities, Congress allocated approximately $14 billion for higher education funding in the CARES Act, a sum that the American Council on Education called “woefully inadequate.”


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Published on Apr 27, 2020