******************** POSTING RULES & NOTES ********************
#1 YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
#2 This mail-list, like most, is publicly & permanently archived.
#3 Subscribe and post under an alias if #2 is a concern.
Chronicle of Higher Ed
‘Way Too Fast’: As Purdue Pushed to Reopen, Parents and Alumni Urged Caution
By Lindsay Ellis JUNE 19, 2020 PREMIUM
Mitch Daniels, Purdue’s president and a former governor of Indiana, has
been one of the loudest and earliest voices in favor of reopening
campuses in the fall. He wrote in April that the university was
“determined not to surrender helplessly” to the virus. Such a stance has
received a big megaphone. Daniels was invited to the White House with
roughly a dozen other presidents to talk about reopening, and he spoke
at a Senate committee hearing about Purdue’s plans.
“All of our students have attended class or exams sick with a fever or
other symptoms because they can't afford to miss. This mentality just
spreads the virus.”
But as Purdue publicized its ambitious plans, the administration was
receiving skeptical feedback from parents and alumni — much of it
mirroring the anxiety that the faculty and others nationwide feel about
returning to their campuses. Purdue opened an online portal to share
suggestions, and The Chronicle obtained submitted comments through an
Indiana Access to Public Records Act request. Here are three takeaways
from the responses:
1. Some viewed the university’s commitment to reopening as morally wrong
— and reminded Purdue that lives are on the line.
Parents wondered why the university didn’t spend more time making a
decision. With time, they wrote, Covid-19 would be better understood and
“This is moving way too fast to ensure the safety of the students and
staff,” one wrote. “It can’t always be about the money … it’s not worth
the life of someone they love.” That parent said they might pull their
son out of Purdue.
Another parent said remaining virtual is an “obvious solution” that the
university ignores at its “peril.” “Imagine trying to convince juries
hearing the cases of grief-stricken families that the university had no
other options,” that person wrote. “The facts overwhelmingly establish
that the university was able to, and did, use technology to keep
students, faculty, and staff safe during the spring and summer semesters.”
Daniels has stressed that young people’s risks to Covid-19 are lower
than older populations, and the university said it will offer
accommodations, possibly including remote work, to employees. But one
parent of a student with an underlying health condition urged the
university to be safe rather than sorry. An alumna also expressed concern.
“This is a frankly incendiary, irresponsible, and irrelevant statement
from Daniels that makes me ashamed to be associated with the school,”
the graduate wrote.
A spokesman for the university, Tim Doty, previously told The Chronicle
that Purdue issued its plans in April because people were asking. The
campus, he had said, wanted to “provide clarity” and begin planning.
Daniels wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that students “overwhelmingly”
want to resume classes in person and on campus. The university has said
it will offer some online classes for students who can’t come back in
the fall, or choose not to. A “subset” of courses chosen based on past
enrollment will be offered virtually, and most will be hybrid in case an
instructor needs to quarantine, Purdue has said.
2. Parents want answers to logistical questions.
Can lectures be held remotely, with recitations in person? How are you
changing dining-hall operations? Where will sick students quarantine?
Will dorms be cleaned professionally?
“DON'T rely on the students to clean the rooms — they don't have the
time or interest,” one parent wrote.
The university has since outlined responses to some of these questions.
Most classrooms will have 50-percent capacity, with a maximum occupancy
of 150 people, and courses are anticipating some hybrid instruction.
Dining will offer carry-out food only, with one-way traffic. The
university designated 400 beds for isolation. And a universal pledge
stressing personal responsibility will require everyone to keep living,
studying, and working spaces clean.
In the portal, some people wondered how out-of-state and international
students could safely return to campus, with the risks of flight travel
and airport-shuttle rides. (Like many public research universities, a
smaller percentage of Purdue’s students have come from the state since
the 2008-9 recession.) The university has not issued guidance on this
question, Doty said.
A major concern from parents was the reliability of the Purdue
University Student Health center, known as PUSH. “It takes days to be
seen if you can even get an appointment,” one parent wrote. The center
needs to “step up” by expanding hours, another wrote. “Let’s face it,
all of our students have attended class or exams sick with a fever or
other symptoms because they can’t afford to miss. This mentality just
spreads the virus.”
Before Covid-19, another wrote, “PUSH could not see my student for a
week after she called in to see a doctor about her sickness. With a
student who’s from out of state and has no transportation, I’m concerned
about PUSH’s ability to handle Covid patients on campus.”
Purdue is creating a separate health center, the Protect Purdue Health
Center, to provide case management, testing, contact tracing, and
tele-health services in connection to the coronavirus. PUSH, Doty said,
will offer clinical care, in addition to noncoronavirus-related services.
3. Many people want to make money off of an in-person fall semester.
Submissions to the portal included business pitches. One person, who
works with medical devices offered information on viral and antibody
testing. A representative for a company said masks, latex-free gloves,
isolation gowns, and “protective face shields” could be ready to ship in
just a few days. Someone pitched a risk-monitoring app and asked Daniels
or a task-force member to take 30 minutes to review it. An employee of a
chemical company manufacturing sanitizers and disinfectants wanted to
“help provide solutions.”
Doty, the Purdue spokesman, did not respond to a question about whether
any of these submissions resulted in a contract with the university.
Daniels has indicated that Purdue will need to spend a lot of money to
prepare for fall semester. The university has already collected more
than $130,000 for preparation. A fund-raising campaign advertises that
$62.50 will pay for five students’ thermometers, face masks, and
sanitizing supplies, and $135 will cover a “plexiglass shield” for the
classroom or another campus space. Daniels told a Senate committee that
Purdue has purchased more than one mile of plexiglass already.
Full posting guidelines at: http://www.marxmail.org/sub.htm
Set your options at: