Even after big names like Harvard announced "online only" classes through the Fall semester, many colleges and universities across the nation will be opening campus for in-person classes with even sports to resume, albeit with strict coronavirus safety measures in place.
Anxiety is still high, however, as schools deal with a variety of "unknowns" as it will try to enforce everything from regular COVID-19 testing, to socially distanced dorms, to face-masks at all campus events, to a ban on parties for students often paying sky-high tuition. Concerning that last one — a strict ban on parties, which many have long seen as part of the 'college experience', this will be much easier said than done. Is it realistic?
"As they struggle to salvage some semblance of a campus experience this fall, U.S. colleges are requiring promises from students to help contain the coronavirus — no keg parties, no long road trips and no outside guests on campus," AP reports. "No kidding. Administrators warn that failure to wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid mass gatherings could bring serious consequences, including getting booted from school."
The report notes that Tulane University, which happens to be located in one of America's most iconic party cities, home to Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street - but which for perhaps the same region emerged last spring as a virus hotspot in the South - has issued a strict ban on large parties:
After a summer weekend of large gatherings, Dean of Students Erica Woodley wrote to students, stressing her key point in bold, capital letters.
“DO NOT HOST PARTIES OR GATHERINGS WITH MORE THAN 15 PEOPLE, INCLUDING THE HOST. IF YOU DO, YOU WILL FACE SUSPENSION OR EXPULSION FROM THE UNIVERSITY,” Woodley wrote, signing off with, “Do you really want to be the reason that Tulane and New Orleans have to shut down again?”
Cornell, Syracuse, and the University of Pennsylvania are among other schools attempting balance having in-person campus life with severe limits on student gatherings. Those schools which went straight to online Fall classes in many cases determined enforcement of social distancing would remain elusive, however.
Without doubt, this will be a first such social experiment of its kind. On the one hand students will demand a full 'experience' on campus (or just off campus), while administrators will scramble to impose strict guidelines while threatening dire consequences.
And looming over all of remains that the moment a cluster of COVID-19 cases breaks out on campus, the whole school could come grinding to a halt.