• Boston University Is First To Announce It May Postpone Its Fall Term Until January 2021

    Boston University appears to be the first American college or university to announce that it may not re-open its campus until January 2021. If public health officials deem it unsafe for students to congregate, the campus could remain closed until the start of next year.

    BU, a private residential research university with 33,000 students that traces its roots to 1839, revealed its contingency plan on BU Today, a news site managed by its communications department. Since it closed its campus on Sunday, March 22, BU president Robert Brown has convened five working groups who are all contributing to a COVID-19 “Recovery Plan.” They include a group that is examining remote learning and another focused on residential life.

    The BU Today article says the January start date would happen in the “unlikely event” that health officials advise that social distancing should extend through the fall. But it is still significant that a major U.S. university is making public the possibility that face-to-face classes could be delayed for as long as nine months. BU has also canceled all its in-person summer classes.

    Richard Ekman, president of the non-profit Council of Independent Colleges, says that some of the 659 colleges in his group have begun quietly to consider whether they too will have to postpone campus openings. Some are discussing start date delays of a month. Others are looking at more extended closures. “They’re all waiting to get better health information,” he says.

    Roughly one third of those small colleges have cash reserves that would be depleted in less than half a year if they were not able to collect tuition and other revenue from enrolled students. “If they had no income for six months, those schools would be in trouble,” he says.

    Even if colleges can reopen in the fall, enrollments are likely to be down since many families have taken a huge financial hit and students may opt to delay college or to attend less expensive public or community colleges.

    At BU, the working groups are also examining what will have to happen when on-campus classes can finally resume. “[T]his is not going to be as simple as flipping a switch and getting back to business as usual,” says BU President Brown. “Starting that planning now is a necessity.”


    #septembre_2020 #janvier_2021 #université #USA #Etats-Unis #ouverture #Boston #septembre_2020 #rentrée_2020 #rentrée_universitaire
    Le #déconfinement... c’est pas pour tout de suite tout de suite...

    • Boston University admits classrooms may stay empty in fall

      University sets focus on 2021 and ponders idea of overhauling residential experience.

      Boston University (BU) is telling its community to prepare for the possibility of no on-campus instruction this fall, a blunt warning its president calls a necessary admission of reality, to allow for proper planning.

      The mindset, said the BU president, Robert A. Brown, is helping his staff keep their focus on the preparations that matter most at a time of great uncertainty across higher education, the nation and the world.

      “Facing up to that fact, I think, is important at this time,” Dr Brown, a former provost at the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has led BU since 2005, said in an interview.

      It is nevertheless raising anxiety, he admitted, at a time when students, faculty and almost everyone in society is eager for a return to normalcy, while trying to assess the relative costs of a bunkered civilisation.

      For the most part, US universities are still consumed by the unexpected challenges of moving their entire spring semester operations online, while perhaps talking in general terms about evaluating options for the fall.

      A professor of chemical engineering, Dr Brown said he took a hard look at the realities of fighting Covid-19 and the necessary conditions for normal close human contact.

      He concluded that the nation’s current progress against Covid-19 meant that BU could not realistically host on-campus courses this summer and possibly this fall. As a result, it is keeping classrooms closed through this summer while holding out a fall reopening as a possibility. That position clears the way, he said, for BU to seriously begin reimagining the concept of a residential campus once the pandemic eases enough to allow some in-person instruction, with promises to set out specific details.

      In practical terms, Dr Brown said, BU’s assessment process means considering tactics such as reconfiguring classrooms to hold far fewer students, with course time divided into online components and smaller in-class periods.

      In somewhat more abstract terms, he said, the process means gaining a greater appreciation for faculty-student interactions and considering how to take the best possible advantage of them when they can occur.

      By examining details such as touching doorknobs and sharing bathrooms, Dr Brown said, BU’s planners will unavoidably have to ask themselves what level of ongoing infection rate is acceptable while awaiting a vaccine. “That really is the fundamental question,” he said, “because it’s not going to be zero.”

      The pressures on higher education, as with much of the rest of the economy, are substantial. US colleges and universities are especially vulnerable, Moody’s Investors Service said in a global analysis, because they rely so heavily on state funding, foreign students and endowment investments that have been hurt by paralysed economies.

      The US institution with the biggest endowment, Harvard University, has just joined the growing number of campuses that have frozen spending, announcing a hold on hiring, salaries and capital spending, with pay cuts for top executives. Its president, Lawrence Bacow, has acknowledged being consumed by the need to decide about the fall semester while “a tremendous amount of uncertainty” remains globally.

      Dr Brown said he, too, cannot predict the shape of the fall semester, owing to major medical questions such as the future availability of widespread testing for Covid-19.

      But he suggested that US colleges could be clearer to their communities about what simply isn’t possible at this point, and what some of their main choices look like, even while he admitted that broaching the idea of spending the fall semester outside classrooms appears to have amplified fears at BU in the short term.

      “There’s a risk with it,” he acknowledged. “And I think a lot of universities say: ‘Well, there’s a real risk of giving uncertainty by saying you don’t know the answer and exposing yourself.’”


      #coronavirus #covid-19

    • Here’s a List of Colleges’ Plans for Reopening in the Fall

      The coronavirus pandemic has left higher-education leaders facing difficult decisions about when to reopen campuses and how to go about it. The Chronicle is tracking individual colleges’ plans. Currently the vast majority say they are planning for an in-person fall semester.

      Here’s our list of colleges that have either disclosed their plans or set a deadline for deciding. New additions include Abilene Christian, Arizona State, Bradley, Central Michigan, Coastal Carolina, Drake, Fairfield, Harding, High Point, Kansas State, McMurry, New Mexico State, Northern Arizona, Norwich, Tarleton State, and Willamette Universities; Bowdoin, Manhattanville, Mount Holyoke, Oberlin, and Roanoke Colleges; and the Universities of Buffalo, Massachusetts at Amherst, Nevada at Reno, and Toledo.

      Tell us your college’s plans or if they are different than reported below. Use this form and provide a relevant link if you want your institution to be included.