Nearly all colleges sent students home back in March, and the big question they now face is whether to resume normal operations in August. Quite a few voices have argued that it’s just too risky to do so. College leaders who reopen will be responsible for a lot of illness and death. Do the safe thing — stay closed.
Taking the opposite side in this argument is professor Rob Jenkins. In today’s Martin Center article, he argues in favor of reopening, with sensible precautions.
Responding to the “Don’t Reopen!” crowd, Jenkins writes:
Attempts to portray those of us who favor reopening as insensitive, uncaring, or mercenary are uncivil and unjust. We, too, are concerned about students and others on campus, not just in the short term but also over the long haul. We believe the health — nay, the very survival — of our campuses is vital to the long-term health and well-being of all concerned.
Jenkins points out that COVID-19 poses minimal risk for most people in the age range we find on college campuses. Older faculty and staff can be protected against possible exposure.
And what if colleges stay closed? Many won’t survive much longer. Continuing with online courses won’t do. Jenkins writes:
Those who think we can simply hold all our classes online again this fall are deluding themselves. Students tolerated that in the spring because they had to. But study after study shows that a clear majority favor returning to campus; short of that, many do not intend to return at all. Can our campuses survive that intact? Can our higher education system? Can our students?