* The Southern…
Southern Illinois University has laid out a plan that calls for bringing thousands of students back to campus and offering them a mix of traditional face-to-face classes, online and hybrid courses — while implementing numerous precautions.
Chancellor Austin Lane, whose first official day on the job was Wednesday, said the plan emphasizes safety, and also strives to offer returning students some semblance of the campus life they desire. It is the result of hundreds of hours of planning, research and surveys ongoing since March.
“We actually polled our students, faculty and staff, and the majority is saying they want to come back,” Lane said. “Now, they are saying they want to come back and ensure that safety measures are in place.” […]
“I think that’s what we’re doing right now, we’re rolling the dice — making that gamble without having really analyzed the bet,” said Dave Johnson, president of the SIU Faculty Association that represents tenured and tenure-track faculty. Johnson said SIU’s survey missed a key perspective. While a majority of faculty may want to resume face-to-face instruction, the vast majority also believe the decision on what format to hold classes during the pandemic should be theirs alone — rather than directed by administrators.
* Inside Higher Ed takes a look at Cornell University’s reopening calculations…
But for Cornell, one additional piece of information was “very important” in making that decision, according to Martha Pollack, the university’s president. That was the finding from Cornell researchers that holding the semester online potentially could result in more infections and more hospitalizations among students and staff members than holding the semester in person would.
A study by Cornell researchers concluded that with nominal parameters, an in-person semester would result in 3.6 percent of the campus population (1,254 people) becoming infected, and 0.047 percent (16 people) requiring hospitalization. An online semester, they concluded, would result in about 7,200 infections and more than 60 hospitalizations.
The conclusion rested on a few different assumptions. First, the study assumed about 9,000 Cornell students would return to Ithaca — even if there is no in-person learning or physical campus life.
Researchers concluded that during an in-person semester, asymptomatic testing is crucial for containing an outbreak and keeping the total number of infections low. When students live and take classes on campus, the university can enforce such a testing program with a variety of methods. For example, students who don’t get tested can lose access to residence halls or be locked out of their email accounts, said Peter Frazier, a data scientist and professor in Cornell’s School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, who led the study.
But when instruction is online, the university loses much of that ability to encourage and enforce testing.
* Tom Kacich: A silly, ideological skirmish while a global war rages: Yet [Rep. Brad Halbrook] said if he had school-age children, he “probably” would send them to school without face masks.