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Harvard and Princeton say some students can return this year

Colleges are determining how they can accommodate some students on campus while maintaining safety measures.
Harvard University. Image: Shutterstock

Harvard and Princeton universities plan to bring back a portion of their undergraduate populations for the upcoming semester, with regular Covid-19 testing and private sleeping areas.

Princeton has also approved a 10% tuition discount for all students for the 2020-21 academic year, whether they’re on campus or taking classes online, the Ivy League school said in a statement Monday.

Harvard University said it will invite about 40% of students to campus, including the freshman class, and that students will be tested every three days during the semester and live in single rooms. At Princeton University, about half of undergraduates will arrive in August, including freshmen and juniors, while the other half can return the following semester.

“Many social and recreational activities will be unavailable, impermissible or highly regulated,” Princeton said. “Parties will be prohibited.”

As the virus continues to spread, colleges are determining how they can accommodate some students on campus while maintaining safety measures that include testing. The plans disclosed by the two schools, among the richest in the U.S., are similar to those that Yale University announced last week.

Every person on Princeton’s campus, including visitors, will be required to wear face coverings while indoors, except when they’re alone in a space or are students in their living quarters.

Financial aid
Williams College, the richest U.S. liberal arts college with an endowment of $2.9 billion as of last June, offered a tuition cut of 15%.

Princeton is less dependent on tuition than most U.S. colleges, as it relies on its $26.1 billion endowment for almost 60% of the school’s budget. The tuition cut would cost about $9.5 million to $10 million annually, university President Christopher Eisgruber said in an interview.

“It is a way of recognising that we’re only able to offer most of our students one semester on campus,” he said. “We all wish we could have more of the activities that enrich college life in so many ways, but the pandemic makes that really hard.”

While tuition at Harvard will remain the same, students receiving need-based financial aid who don’t return to campus will receive $5,000 each semester to support studying at home. Harvard’s term would begin on Sept. 2 and end before Thanksgiving.

Dining services will be prepared to transition between “touchless food pickup” and more traditional dining operations as the situation warrants, according to a statement from Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, Dean Claudine Gay and Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana. Library space will remain closed and no off-campus visitors will be allowed in student residences, including enrolled students who aren’t living on campus.

“The recent upturn in Covid-19 cases in certain states illustrates the difficulty of making predictions, even well-informed ones, about the evolution of this virus,” they wrote. “Given this uncertainty, we determined that our fall plan must enable us to bring back as many students as possible while providing sufficient margin to accommodate an escalation of the prevalence of Covid-19 in our area.”

Deferral deadline
Sophomores and juniors would likely not return to campus this year, and if only one group could return in the early 2021 semester, priority will be given to seniors.

U.S. colleges are determining how to proceed as it’s unclear how many students will want to enrol. New Jersey’s Rutgers University announced Monday that its campuses will offer mostly online courses with a limited number of in-person classes.

At Harvard, the deferral deadline for freshmen has been extended to July 24. For upperclassmen contemplating taking a leave of absence, the school is offering advisers to work with them.

A decision about winter and spring varsity and club sports will be made later this year, the school said.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Generally speaking, is this lock-down scenario going to continue next year and also the years to come and as such dooming the world economy?

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