How colleges have helped model a path through the pandemic

As the pandemic has, once again, transformed our world, higher education has remained resilient during these 20 difficult months. Colleges pivoted rapidly in March 2020, going remote and then developing mitigation strategies to bring students back in-person while trying to keep communities safe and secure continuity of learning.

After failing when students on campus offered to return to normal, dozens of universities announced last week that they would end the semester early and send students home. due to a spike in COVID infections.

Colleges and universities are more than just classrooms and faculty. They are cities to themselves and cities within cities, with housing, dining halls, sports and recreation facilities, parking and ancillary services and more. Ways colleges have managed to restructure their operations to continue providing essential services and extra support to students – including through support centres, tutoring and counseling mental health counseling – offers a model that other sections of society can follow.

We know that 2022 will not be a repeat of 2020. For starters, we now know a lot more about COVID: How it spreads, it spikes during the cold months, and it affects more severe in unvaccinated people. We know about mask fatigue and vaccine hesitancy, but we also know about vaccines and boosters, the importance of monitoring and testing, and new treatments. on the horizon. In short, we have tools we can only dream of in 2020. And nowhere is this more evident than on a college campus.

So what did the college get right?

They have invested heavily in testing and in some cases wastewater and other monitoring systems to stay ahead and aware of potential outbreaks.

They have developed complex contact tracing systems and protocols for isolation and quarantine.

They implemented face covering and social distancing rules, measured square footage in classrooms and dining rooms, while social engineering and reimagining the space.

They advertise vaccines and boosters for students, faculty, and staff, with many achieving 90% plus community immunization rates.

And they are in constant communication with the various constituencies that make up a university, and tailor that message in response to feedback.

Where universities tend to be run by committees, compared to the top-down approach of corporations, this has proven to be a useful setup amid the pandemic and committees. Different teams can focus on different aspects of it, with members of those groups then meeting together for top-level strategic planning and immediate crisis response.

But while colleges have a lot of things right, they also miss a few things. Many have left their roles as civic organizations, effectively closing their doors to the communities around them to focus on their own survival. As trust in our collective institutions — including the news media, government, and organized religion, is dropping to all-time lows — many colleges, many in Some of them were clearly established to serve civic purposes, retreating when they needed to step up. And instead of providing perspective and cultivating civic virtues, too many academics, like the rest of us, have gotten caught up in political passions at the moment.

If universities can restore their civic voice and leadership, they still have a lot to teach us — especially in this critical time. How colleges have helped model a path through the pandemic


ClareFora is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. ClareFora joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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