The reopening of college campuses in the fall will be challenging and it will not be a one size fits all approach. It will depend on the location of the college and the demographics of the students. The key will be for the college to get a baseline and intermittently survey the students. What fraction of the student body and how often to survey will require a professional modeler to determine, based on location and student body. Class size will be cut in half so that would mean virtual learning in the dorm. This would allow for six feet of social distancing. Entrances and exit doors will need to be clearly marked and when possible be separated by a “jersey” barrier. Dorm room space would be reduced from triples to doubles. Dining rooms would need to be reconfigured; no outside vendors or visitors and they should have a grab and go option.
How to protect faculty and vulnerable students. The faculty can be protected using a plastic shield in front of the class. Vulnerable students may need to be housed in a local hotel, one per room with main meals to be delivered. First semester would end at Thanksgiving with the students returning after the 1st of the year. Spectators at sporting events would depend on the dynamics of the particular outbreak and the level of infection in the community. If there is very small outbreak then maybe the colleges open up to 30 or 40 percent capacity.
The success and the failure of all this will depend on the student’s cooperation. If a student refuses to wear a mask what are the repercussions? Do you kick them out of class? Or do you have disposable masks at the door with a buzzer to let them in the room. Students will probably feel like they must navigate a minefield going to and from every day and will grow weary with all of the restrictions especially if social gathering are prohibited.
College kids will challenge the rules. The college administration's handling of this will be key.