Public health measures to stop the novel coronavirus from spreading have forced necessary but disruptive changes on institutions across U.S. society, and nowhere has the adjustment been more dramatic than in higher education. From online classes to canceled commencement ceremonies, the spring semester of 2020 will long be remembered as a time that tested the resilience of colleges and universities as never before.
And schools are determined to resume in-person operations as safely as possible in the fall, both to fulfill their educational missions and to salvage their badly stressed finances. Of 1,035 institutions surveyed by the Chronicle of Higher Education, some 63% plan to bring students back. They are spending millions to supply masks, retrofit facilities for social distancing and step up testing, according to the Wall Street Journal. This is the price of short-term reopening — which is itself a precondition for long-term viability.