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University administrators take different paths on road to reopen schools for fall semester

No set guidelines for universities to reopen
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Posted at 8:56 AM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 09:05:20-04

BALTIMORE, Md. — The fall semester is just a couple months away for college students but the decision on whether to open or not open during the pandemic depends upon where a student goes to school.

Each institution has a different approach.

Administrators across the country all face the same dilemma, how to reopen schools during a pandemic, but despite the shared concern for the safety of students and staff, there isn't a shared set of guidelines for universities to follow.

University of the Potomac president and CEO Dr. Clinton Gardner said “for the most part, I think you will find leaders in higher education are calling around to other institutions to see what they're doing in order to try and figure out what the best practice is.”

Many administrators, like Gardner are communicating with each other as well as the college accrediting association Middle States Commission on Higher Education, for advice.

“We are accredited by the same accrediting body that accredits some of the world's great universities, like Georgetown, Princeton, NYU, Penn, and other institutions. They have provided us with some reasonable guidance on how we should think about the fall,” Gardner said.

Middle States Commission on Higher Education president Dr. Heather Perfetti said “we know that institutions are learning from each other. We know that faculty and staff with experience in delivering programs and services online are being tapped to share their expertise with others.”

Officials at some universities have announced campuses will remain closed as all classes go online, while others plan to reopen and hold classes in person, or a hybrid of both.

Those aren't the only differences across the country, some schools will require everyone on campus to wear masks, others are reducing class sizes to maintain social distancing.

There also will be protocols for coronavirus testing, temperature scanning, and sanitizing procedures.

“We generally will not be issuing that kind of advice to institutions primarily because we serve so many institutions in so many locations where the conditions may be different,” Perfetti said.

Guidance available for administrators in terms of how to safely reopen their universities to students, but just like each state has its own coronavirus recovery plan, there is no set standard on how schools should proceed.

“Every single school has to make that decision based on the current pandemic, guidance from the CDC, the centers for disease, control and prevention, as well as how local governments are viewing this pandemic in terms of re-opening,” Gardner said.