College students should be returning to campus this fall.
For some colleges and universities, the decision to bring back in-person research and instruction is a matter of basic economic survival.
But even where it is not, the pandemic crisis threatens the essence of college life. Even the best distance-learning program cannot replace the normal interactions that take place on the college campus.
A return to in-person instruction should follow a strategy based on the latest science, balanced with efforts to restore campus life and protect the vulnerable.
It begins with a comprehensive testing and contact tracing plan. Colleges should also focus on residential environments where social distancing may be difficult.
Not all students or faculty will be able to come back at the same time.
Some combination of distance learning with in-person instruction will be needed.
It will be tough to bring students back to college campuses this fall, but it’s an effort well worth making.