Colleges 2020-21: "This is Not One Size Fits All"

Plans and Backup Plans Developed

Dave Mager
May 06, 2020 - 8:24 pm
Yale University, 9/27/18

Yana Paskova, Getty Images

Students, faculty and staff would be tested for coronavirus upon arrival on residential campuses, under a proposal from the governor's Reopen Connecticut Higher Education Subcommittee.

The plan submitted to the governor suggests residential colleges can open Sept. 1st at the earliest.

Each school will be advised to develop a series of backup plans for activation if normal operations are interrupted again.

Notes from the governor's Wednesday news briefing:

FALL PLANS, AND FALLBACK PLANS

Even as they issued their guidelines on reopening, members of the panel said they'll defer to public health officials on conditions.

"We need to make sure all of the guidelines are adhered to before we will be comfortable welcoming students, faculty and staff back to our schools," said Connecticut Colleges and Universities President Mark Ojakian. "We will not move forward until all of the conditions have been met, and we can give reasonable assurances to faculty, staff, students and their families that we are in a position to re-open up."

Ojakian adds that, "This is not one size fits all." Beyond a series of requirements called "gating conditions," different campuses will be free to come up with their own opening plans tailored to their specific needs.

The healthcare "gating conditions" for reopening include:

--steady decline in hospitalizations

--adequate number of tests available (the subcommittee estimates that "between 200,000 and 300,000 tests will be needed in late August/early September)"

--capacity for contact tracing

--follow state guidelines on distancing, density and masks

--adequate supply of PPE/ facemasks ("all faculty, staff and students should wear masks")

--adequate hospital capacity

Even if opening goes as planned in September, retired Yale Vice President Linda Lorimer explains that schools may have to return to "online learning" at some point: "We could have a statewide problem arise, in which the governor would have to again create a statewide shutdown, or it could be that there's an uptick on a single campus, which would warrant a close of that place."

Lorimer also says that every college should expect to handle some infections: "It seems almost inevitable that there will be those students who contract the virus, and there then must be a plan for containment... since, particularly in residential settings, it can spread quite quickly."

LATEST STATISTICS FROM CT DPH

--85 additional deaths, for a total of 2,718

--hospitalizations dropped to 1,445 (-55)

--30,995 known COVID-`9 cases

--111,447 tests (roughly 3.3% of the state pop. now tested)