Universities are grappling with a number of complex, high-stakes factors as they decide how to reopen their campuses and continue their mission amid the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. A new “toolkit” seeks to provide them with a framework to help guide those decisions.
The toolkit, titled “Covid-19 Planning Guide and Self-Assessment for Higher Education” and explained on a website called OpenSmartEDU, is designed to help educational institutions of all kinds gauge how effectively they are preparing for a range of Covid-19 scenarios. It acknowledges that each organization will need to develop and implement its own plan for resuming its educational work.
The guide was produced by three organizations in the United States—the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and the Baltimore-based firm Tuscany Strategy Consulting. It was developed primarily for colleges and universities in the United States, “but it can be used to benefit universities and colleges around the world, given that the risks and potential mitigation steps are the same,” Lucia Mullen, a senior analyst and researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center and co-author of the report, said in an email.
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The process begins with four guiding principles. The first is to recognize that higher education will benefit from being reimagined to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.
The other three principles stress protecting the health and safety of all members of a campus community; maintaining academic excellence under challenging circumstances; and making equity and inclusion critical components of institutional responses.