Less than half of US colleges are now planning for in-person classes

Most of the country's college students are in for more distanced learning this fall.Tzido/Getty Images
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education has been tracking over 1,250 colleges across the country to gauge school reopening plans.
  • In late June, it found that roughly 65% of colleges were planning on in-person semesters. As coronavirus cases have surged in the US, that number has plummeted.
  • Just 49% of colleges are still planning on an in-person semester, according to the Chronicle's most recent tally, meaning many institutions have walked back initial decisions to bring students to campus.
  • Both large public universities and smaller private universities are doing so. On Monday, both Miami University of Ohio and George Washington University in Washington, DC rolled back their in-person reopening plans. Classes are set to start in less than a month.
  • Schools everywhere are flying blind. There has been limited federal guidance on how to reopen, even though more than 6,300 coronavirus cases have been linked to college campuses.
  • One university president, Texas A&M's Michael Young, said forming a plan to bring students back to campus was harder work than when he was a State Department employee drafting a plan to unify East and West Germany — meaning reopening schools has become ending-the-Cold-War levels of difficult.
  • Schools that are reopening in some capacity are doing so with unusual precautions: The University of Notre Dame is building an outdoor dining hall while Rice University is building outdoor classrooms.
  • Harvard and Cornell plan to test students for the coronavirus as often as every three days; most colleges are requiring campus members to self-report symptoms daily.