Pandemic Resilience on Campus

Our twenty-first white paper is “Pandemic Resilience on Campus,” by Rajiv Sethi, Rachel Narehood Austin, Divya Siddarth, Jacob Austin, Julie Seager, and Hannah Yoo.


A college campus is a quintessential congregate environment with crowded and bustling living and learning spaces, vulnerable to rapid contagion. Yet online education as currently conceived is a poor substitute for the on-campus experience, and may exacerbate existing educational inequities. Many Colleges and Universities are accordingly keen to re-open their doors. In this paper we consider a range of criteria that must be considered as these decisions are made. In this process, institutions must look to and support the communities in which they are embedded, and determine whether disease prevalence outside their campuses allows for disease suppression within. We highlight that institutions must adopt not just population thinning, social distancing, and restrictions on mobility, as many are now preparing to do, but also that they need to build, maintain, and vigorously use an infrastructure for testing, tracing, and supported isolation. They need to demonstrate to students, faculty, and staff that they have little to fear from each other, and provide resources and care to those most vulnerable within their jurisdictions. If they can accomplish this, even with the delivery of classes having a significant online component, students may be able to safely return to campus life.