I college conoscevano i rischi, ma hanno comunque riaperto. Here's how they got it all wrong

Entrando nel nuovo anno scolastico, college e università conoscevano i rischi.

Dopotutto, a marzo, la maggior parte si era orientata verso l'apprendimento virtuale — temporaneamente o permanentemente — in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus. But by fall, school officials had to make a decision yet again: Do they reopen in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic? And if they do, can it be done safely?
In alcuni casi, local health departments warned schools against welcoming students back. In altri, it was the faculty and staff who spoke out against reopening.
Administration officials nationwide struggled to balance conflicting guidance from politicians and public health experts, while also navigating pressure from students, parents and athletic programs.
    Many schools ultimately decided to welcome students back, informing their communities that new safety precautions are in place, and Covid tests remain at the ready.
    But the safety measures weren’t enoughthere are now more than 40,000 cases of Covid-19 among students, faculty and staff at colleges and universities nationwide, secondo a CNN tally from earlier this month.
    On some campuses, students that tested positive were relegated to undesirable quarantine housing and told to self-quarantine. Others who were caught partying were sent home.
    At every step of the way, colleges have turned what should be an exciting time for students into a nightmare for everyone with no end in sight.
    Here’s why the reopening of colleges in the US has gone so poorly.

    Schools placed the burden on students

    A luglio, Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Harvard Medical School, rightfully predicted that colleges were going to blame studentsbehavior for any Covid-19 outbreaks.
    But the real problem, lei disse, is poor planning.
    Any public health plan that requires radical changes in behavior and perfect compliance is doomed to fail,” Marcus told CNN in a recent interview. “And that’s exactly what’s happening.
    At San Diego State University in San Diego.

    Many universities have prioritized requiring students to be on their best behaviorencouraging them to get tested and advising them to stay away from social gatherings.
    Ma, telling students to stay six feet away from others, wear a mask and wash their hands simply isn’t enough, Marcus said.
    If school administrators could put themselves back in their 18-year-old selves for just a minute, it would become clear to them that what they’re asking from a college student is unrealistic,” lei disse. “But I think there’s been a lack of empathy in what’s happening on campuses.
    Anziché, at some schools, students are being punished for socializing. At Purdue University, three dozen students were suspended for attending an off-campus party and violating the school’s social-distancing rules.
    Schools need to move away from thisabstinence-only” approccio, Marcus said, and instead recognize that students need to stay socially connected and finding ways to support that.
    Some campuses have given guidance on creating social pods, a strategy that Marcus said is more realistic, because it gives students a low-risk option for socializing. Others have created large social outdoor spaces, as an alternative to indoor gatherings, thus drawingstudents away from higher risk settings that we really want them to avoid,” lei spiegò.
    This kind of risk-aversion already happens on college campusesjust look at underage drinking. Colleges know that students will inevitably drink before they’re legally allowed to do so, and in response have provided safer alternatives for social events that don’t involve alcohol, Marcus noted.
    There are also actions in place allowing students to seek help without facing disciplinary action.
    But this framework hasn’t been as widely applied to the Covid-19 pandemic.
    College students wear masks our of concern for the coronavirus on the Boston College campus.

    The question for college campuses becomes how do we support students in having their social needs met, while also staying lower risk,” Marcus explained. “And I don’t think that’s the approach that’s been taken.

    Colleges and universities weren’t fully prepared

    A maggio, the American College Health Association put together a 20-page document outlining considerations for colleges and universities to take into account before reopening.
    It includes things like spacing out students in residence halls, implementing a mix of in-person and online classes, and planning for quarantine housing.
    And colleges, for the most part, have done this to the best of their ability. But their best may not have been enough, some students said.
    Sam Burnstein, a junior at the University of Michigan, said he tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this month. He thinks he contracted it from one of his housemates.
    Hours after his positive test, he moved into the quarantine housing on his university’s campus, and he was shocked at the conditions: No food, no microwaves to make food, no cleaning supplies, not even any soap.
    It wasn’t immediately clear we were moving into totally empty, minimally furnished rooms,” Burnstein told CNN. “So we showed up and didn’t have most of the things we needed.
    Burnstein called Michigan’s response to dealing with Covid-19woefully inadequate.
    It’s not that the accommodations were necessarily that badit’s that they seemed like an afterthought, Egli ha detto, and there was a lot of ambiguity from the start on what to do once he tested positive.
    He later found out that quarantining at the university-provided housing wasn’t even a requirement, like it had seemed.
    Testing also proved difficult, Burnstein said.
    Though Michigan is providing free testing to students on campus, students have to qualify for a test and fill out a preliminary assessment before you can get a test, according to the University of Michigan’s sito web.
    Burnstein said he doesn’t think it’s the quickest process, noting that he never actually received a response after filling out the preliminary form. He instead received a rapid test from a center 45 minutes away.
    Michigan’s testing strategy, like other colleges, is based on voluntary surveillance testing, and the president of the university has said that it is more effective than testing everyone regularly.
    Students and faculty protest in-person class for fall semester amid the coronavirus  pandemic outside of the house of University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel at the University of Michigan.

    Ancora, the school’s Graduate EmployeesOrganization, representing more than 2,000 graduate student workers, has argued that the precautions the university has taken are not enough and has gone on strike in protest of the reopening plans.
    Mark Schlissel, the university’s president, riconosciuto “errors in the reopening process. Lui faced a vote of no confidence from the faculty senate over the school’s reopening.
    Quando è stato chiesto un commento, a spokesperson for the University of Michigan told CNN it hasa robust COVID testing planand will be increasing its asymptomatic testing capacity from 3,000 tests a week to 6,000 tests a week.
    But Michigan isn’t the only university facing scrutiny over its handling of the virus.
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was forced to switch to remote classes after just two weeks, following multiple clusters and hundreds of cases cropping up.
    The University of Tennessee, after facing thousands of cases, had to scramble to create more quarantine and isolation space as more and more students became infected.
    I think there was a lot of attention paid to things like social gatherings and placing responsibility on students to not behave a certain way,” Burnstein said. “But less attention paid to steps the university was taking to prepare for students.

    Administrators were forced to manage conflicting interests

    Colleges and universities are being put in an impossible position, said Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief for the “Scienza” family of academic journals.
    You’ve got so many constituencies that have so many different views,” Thorp, the former provost of Washington University in St. Louis and chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, ha detto alla CNN.
    The administrators are trying to bridge a divide that really can’t be bridged, between what the campus wants and what outside forces want.
    UN "COVID-19 Supply Tent" is seen on Move In Day 2020 - North and West Campus, at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

    He broke it down like this.
    Università, particularly public ones, are hearing public health experts that advise one thing, a board that says something else, a governor that says another thing and maybe even a system of schools that want something else.
    That creates this paralysis that we’re seeing,” Egli ha detto. Like schools reopening and then closing weeks later, per esempio.
    Poi, ovviamente, there’s Greek Life.
    Attraverso il paese, entire sorority and fraternity houses have been put on lockdown following outbreaks of the virus, as partying and social gathering are baked into the very essence of that culture.
    Which begs the question: Were colleges ever going to crack down on Greek Life? Thorp said it would have been impossible. No one has stopped issuesincluding sexual violence, hazing and racismthat have plagued those groups for years.
    So why did anyone think we were going to stop bad behavior during Covid?” Thorp said.
    A huge part of it is money, as many big donors are insistent Greek Life continue. Attempts at cracking down on them are often met with backlash from wealthy alumni, putting universities in a bind.
    All of this plays into collegesresponse to reopening.
    Most larger schools, Thorp said, reopened because of political pressure from the states they are insuch as big public schools in red states. Smaller, private schools are able to handle the virus better, because they have more money and less people. But any big university is going to struggle to do the kind of wide-range testing required, Egli ha detto.
    Partiers congregate on the balcony of a downtown apartment in Columbia, Mo., near the University of Missouri campus.

    They simply don’t have the resources.
    It’s very easy to look at administrators and put the blame on them, but they’re operating in complicated political environments,” Egli ha detto.
    Public schools get part of their budgets from the state legislatures, so they have to consider those interests. Many private schools, d'altra parte, have important wealthy trustees, so they have to manage that.
      And throughout it all, the administrators are the ones being thrust into the spotlight.
      If the campuses could’ve acted solely on the public health information that they had, without interference from outside forces,” Thorp said, “then I think most schools would be online right now.

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