Colleges face varying types of pressure from students, politicians, finances and local COVID rates. They need resources and resolve to operate safely.

Colleges and universities are struggling with multiple challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic — from upholding the caliber of student education to supporting the health of students, faculty and staff, all within financial constraints and a complicated political environment. Schools guided by public health and operating with adequate resources have most successfully prevented, mitigated and managed outbreaks. By contrast, those making decisions guided by external factors such as institutional leadership’s view of student wishes or political influences have faced widespread and poorly managed outbreaks.  

To guarantee our nation’s future, Americans deserve the chance to learn safely. To do so, schools need adequate resources to safely teach students in person and to successfully maintain high-quality virtual options when outbreaks necessitate school closures. Some institutions can turn to endowments and donors, but many rely on taxpayer support and all have received only modest support from COVID relief bills.  Their choices are influenced not only by institutional and student financial health but also by variables such as local transmission rates and political forces. Despite these differences, how we can provide all students with the same opportunity to succeed?  

Colby College success is expensive 

Ideally, schools base their decision-making on public health and have sufficient resources to carry out their choices. At Colby College, masks must be worn at nearly all times, all community members are tested twice a week for COVID-19, and students must follow stringent social guidelines including no off-campus visitors and scaled back parties. These efforts are expensive. The twice-weekly tests alone may cost Colby as much as $2.5 million this