Another Toggle Term: North Carolina State University

Toggles Down and Up_CogdogThis week has seen two American universities choose what I’ve dubbed a Toggle Term.  That means they began the fall semester with in-person education but switched over to wholly online education once infections took off.

The first Toggle was the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on Tuesday.  The second came on the next day, as Notre Dame sent ongoing in-person classes online.

Today we have a third Toggle Term case.

North Carolina State University announced today that it would switch away from face-to-face instruction and campus life, moving operations online instead.

The timeline: classes began on August 10th.  The online paradigm starts August 24th and runs through 2020.  “[I]n-person and hybrid classes will move to online-only instruction for the remainder of the fall semester.”  Students are not automatically sent home; the campus is still open, just locked down and online.

NCSU’s Chancellor, Randy Woodson, was very clear about the reason: rising infections.

[W]e have more than 500 students in quarantine and isolation, mostly off campus, who have either tested positive or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. We are also investigating other potential off-campus clusters…

What caused that? Student behavior, straight up:

We have also recently witnessed the negative impacts caused by those who did not take personal responsibility. We’ve had reports of large parties in off-campus apartments. In the last two days alone, we’ve identified three COVID-19 clusters in off-campus and Greek Village houses that can be traced to parties and behavior outside of our community standards and the governor’s mandates. We’re seeing significant infections in Greek life, and at this time there have been another seven Greek houses that have been quarantined due to a number of additional positive cases.

Note that emphasis on students.  Unlike other academic leaders explaining their late conversion to the online education path, Woodson does not reference local, regional, or national COVID-19 infection trends.  This announcement is focused on in-house, community behavior.

Note, too,  the role of fraternity and sorority houses.  I may return to this as I get time.

Watch for more Toggles.  The fall is just beginning and infections are still going strong in the US:

91-DIVOC-countries-UnitedStates (11)91-DIVOC-countries-UnitedStates (11)

(thanks to one keen-eyed person on today’s Future Trends Forum and Rob Henderson on Twitter; photo via the irresistible Alan Levine)

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3 Responses to Another Toggle Term: North Carolina State University

  1. Kyle Johnson says:

    I’m having a really hard time with the framing that student behavior caused this. Piss poor leadership (federal, state, local, and college) caused this. Bringing students back when you KNOW that the virus is not contained is the real failure. Blaming the students is just scapegoating. The students are just behaving like human beings. Blaming them for not doing what grown adults have been unable to do for the last six months is really not OK.

  2. John C Ittelson says:

    Hats off to Kyle, blaming students for behavior ( yes poor judgment on their part), that is easy to predict seems like a lack of leadership. I do not hold the University leadership fully response. The lack of leadership in the Country and states shares the blame. Our institutions of higher education, where research, and science are taught,where there is a model of shared goverence should have been a stronger voice to not follow the crazy path the USA has taken compared to other developed countries

  3. Roxann says:

    Bryan, I was thinking of your gaming course as I’m writing this comment. The blame and shame game is on! Deciding whether this could look like a COVID University/College Monopoly board game – go to jail- might mean students go home, or self isolate in dorms for 14 days, or maybe a VR Immersive experience contagion game might be interesting to explore for virus awareness. I might try this on social VR again. On a serious note, look how the data is coming in fast and furious on campus infections , and speculating on how this could have been avoided is a consequential- game on. More seriously, the saying is if we don’t learn from the past, we might repeat it in the future. So can we also say that if we don’t learn from the present we will repeat it in the future? I hope we are all on the same page of at least trying to communicating kindness, self compassion, and that health and wellness matters, and not hammer on shame and blame which probably already exist enough. Marc Brackett, Yale University, talks about “the permission to feel”. And we all should feel grateful, thankful and hopeful for people working to help fight what really needs to be conquered- the virus. And I think and hope most people are adapting, and adopting new behaviors to stay as safe as possible when/where ever possible. I empathize with our students and educators. This is isn’t easy Period.

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