Drs. Fauci and Birx come out against rising Toggle Terms

As fall semester proceeds or draws nigh, more colleges and universities are considering or implementing switches from face-to-face education to online experience.  Meanwhile, two leading public health voices have come out in strong opposition to these Toggle Terms.

To recap: Toggle Terms are when a campus swaps in-person for wholly digital teaching during a semester.  Confirmed examples from this fall include: Colorado CollegeGettysburg CollegeJames Madison University, Lock Haven University, North Carolina State UniversityNotre DameSUNY OneontaTemple University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the University of Wyoming.  Additionally, Temple University expanded its remote instruction period to cover the rest of fall 2020.

However, Dr. Anthony Fauci thinks sending students off campus is a terrible idea.  “It’s the worst thing you could do,” he said on NBC.  Instead, we should:

“…keep them at the university in a place that’s sequestered enough from the other students but don’t have them go home because they could be spreading it in their homes.”

Fauci_no Toggle_NBC

More:

“When you send them home, particularly when you’re dealing with a university where people come from multiple different locations, you could be seeding the different places with infection…”

Another leading voice agreed:

“Sending these individuals back home in their asymptomatic state to spread the virus in their hometown or among their vulnerable households could really re-create what we experienced over the June time frame in the South,” [Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force] said, according to a source on the call.

I’m not sure how influential these statements will be.  Will they arguments slow down Toggle Terms?  Will Birx and/or Fauci give more strength to campus leaders urging on-site quarantines?  Or are they irrelevant in the face of infection statistics and institutional priorities?

(thanks to Amy Pearlman)

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5 Responses to Drs. Fauci and Birx come out against rising Toggle Terms

  1. It’s unfortunate that there weren’t more guidelines provided early on…it seems like this is mostly trial and error, which is not the situation we want to be in when people’s lives are at stake. I will repeat my wish that the state and federal governments would provide incentives for colleges and universities to either go completely virtual or keep students on campus. We all need to be able to get through this next year, implement new policies and procedures, and figure out the optimal approach for each campus (or each collaboration as I’m urging small privates to develop alliances).

  2. Glen McGhee says:

    Bryan,
    Are you reading into this?
    The discussion is about students returning home (with or without symptoms) that become a new vector. “When you send them home … you could be seeding the different places with infection…” The concern is very reasonable, I think.
    Unfortunately, this makes higher ed out to be the “bad guy” yet again.
    Not good.

  3. Lisa Durff says:

    A better solution would have been to keep all the students at home in the first place and not have those from high incidence areas carry the virus to low incidence college towns like my own. But we missed that ship. So, I do suppose Fauci has a point now. But what about all those students who went home for Labor Day weekend and will return to campus on Tuesday? I hear strains of “Here We Go Again”.

  4. Nicholas Santilli says:

    If the advice is to keep students sequestered or quarantined on campus then State and Federal governments need to provide the material and financial support to make this happen. Medical staff, PPE, testing and contact tracing kits, and other supplies need to be provided to institutions. Institutional budgets cannot withstand the financial and human resources stresses to institutions if they are to house students for this purpose. And no, tuition, fees, and room and board will not generate the funds needed to support this venture.

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