O-Rings, Groupthink and Campus Reopenings

College officials figuring out how to bring students back to campus resemble the Challenger engineers tasked with building a rocket to fit political considerations, Janet Murray argues.

By 
Janet H. Murray
 August 17, 2020

On Jan. 28, 1986, the NASA Challenger blew up on launching. Like many Americans, I was devastated to see technology fail us so painfully and spectacularly. I followed the investigations of the disaster very closely, which showed that the original sin that led to the explosion was not the infamous O-rings, which could not withstand the cold launch temperatures.


Middlebury group calls on college to go online-only; college stands firm

The day after about 60 Middlebury community members published a letter in the Addison Independent asking Middlebury College to reconsider its reopening plans, President Laurie L. Patton delivered her own message: The benefits of having students return to campus outweigh the risks. “There is no perfect solution to the Covid-19 reopening dilemma,” Patton wrote Friday in response to the letter, which includes local residents as well as college faculty and staff. “In our view, we will get farther if we try not to polarize on this topic.”


23 OSU sorority members test positive for COVID-19, house under quarantine

STILLWATER — An entire sorority house is under quarantine and isolation at Oklahoma State University. The university confirmed Saturday that 23 members of Pi Beta Phi tested positive for COVID-19. OSU officials learned of the positive cases Friday night.


UNC reports coronavirus clusters in student housing at Ehringhaus Community and Granville Towers

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Within a week of the resumption of classes, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has reported two clusters of coronavirus cases in student housing. Residents of Ehringhaus Community and Granville Towers have been notified about the cases in their living quarters and advised about next steps.


COVID-19 case cluster confirmed at Sigma Nu fraternity house

Update 6:20 p.m.: There are at least six positive cases of COVID-19 in the Sigma Nu house as of Friday, according to a message from the Sigma Nu president obtained by The Daily Tar Heel.  According to the message, members of the fraternity who live both in the house and out must quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure.


Notre Dame sees spike in COVID-19 cases, which grew worse over the weekend

SOUTH BEND — When the University of Notre Dame had returning students tested for the coronavirus before allowing them back on campus for the fall semester, just 33 — fewer than half a percent — of the nearly 12,000 tests came back positive. But in the one-week span from Aug. 6 to Friday, the university has reported 29 cases of COVID-19. Of the 348 tests conducted since Aug. 3, more than 8% have been positive.


Looking for an In-Person Experience

New polling data suggests American college students are more likely than the general public to believe universities should bring at least some students back to campus. The latest findings also show that people who saw their work disrupted by the pandemic are now more likely to want to enroll in education or training, though only half feel they can access the training they need.


Brown undergraduate classes will be fully online until at least Oct. 5

The University is implementing a “phased approach” to in-person undergraduate instruction and student returns to campus in light of the shifting public health landscape, according to the Healthy Brown website. As part of this approach, all undergraduate courses will be taught remotely until the week of Oct. 5, meaning in-person teaching will resume at least two weeks later than initially planned — or not at all.


President and Provost discuss updates on reopening plans, University finances

Marc Tessier-Lavigne

President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell provided updates on plans to reopen campus and Stanford’s financial situation in a virtual meeting on Aug. 3. They were joined by Vice President for Human Resources Elizabeth Zacharias, who discussed the University’s efforts to help faculty and staff affected by COVID-19.


Revision to fall semester plans regarding on-campus housing, tuition, and fees

We write today with an enormous sense of sadness. It had been our fervent hope since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic that public health measures and an increased availability of testing would allow us to offer our undergraduates a hybrid learning experience this fall that, by including more remote learning, social distancing and other safety precautions, would enable all the students who desired it the opportunity to live and learn on campus.