Dr. Singh and Lanhee J. Chen, fellow at the Hoover Institution and director of domestic policy studies at Stanford University, jointly published an op-ed for The Washington Post on strategies for reopening campuses in the fall.
For some colleges and universities, the decision to bring back in-person research and instruction this fall is a matter of basic economic survival. But even where it is not, the pandemic crisis threatens the essence of college life. No distance-learning program, regardless of how well thought-out or planned it is, can replace the interactions among students, faculty and others that normally take place on college campuses.
Our students have expressed frustration about taking all of their classes online. What’s more, some from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds haven’t had access to the technology, resources or quiet spaces necessary for effective distance learning.
For all of these reasons, we urge campuses to bring students and in-person instruction back for the fall term. A return to in-person instruction should follow a strategy based on the latest science, balanced with efforts to restore campus life — with particular care for those who are most likely to suffer adverse health effects from covid-19. Although college students generally fall into an age category that has not experienced significant negative impacts or mortality because of the coronavirus, others they interact with, such as faculty and staff, may be at higher risk.
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