As cases hit new highs, institutions confront costly implications

US university leaders have been accused of “suffering from magical thinking” about their hopes of reopening campuses this autumn, as coronavirus cases surge across the country.

Institutions have been forced to dial back plans to resume in-person teaching and to cut tuition fees as the US hits new records of more than 50,000 infections per day, despite more than three months of lockdowns.

The nation’s academic leaders, like much of the US public, had long been “suffering from magical thinking about the pandemic”, said Roopika Risam, an associate professor of secondary and higher education at Salem State University.

Some level of denial may be normal, given this “extraordinarily challenging and unprecedented time”, Dr Risam said. “Universities are no different.”

The financial stakes loomed as a major factor behind any undue wishfulness. US universities are already counting billions of dollars in losses and tens of thousands of lost jobs due to the pandemic, and they widely expect the problem to get far worse if they can only offer their students online options.

Read more : Paul Basken : Times Higher Education : 07 July 2020