HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Gov. Ned Lamont received recommendations for a phased reopening of colleges and universities in the state.
The recommendations include a gradual reopening of higher education campuses over the course of the summer.
The report states that by the fall semester, if health conditions permit, all of the colleges and universities may reopen.
It also goes on to say that institutions will be free to decide whether they need more time for certain programs to restart.
It follows Lamont's decision to keep public schools closed for the rest of the academic year. Lamont made that announcement on Tuesday.
The Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group says reopening colleges and universities will need to be phased.
They recommend reopening colleges and universities in the phases below:
- Research programs and administrative functions will be able to open on the same timetable as the first wave of general business operations in the state, which is currently set for May 20.
- Early in the summer, workforce development programs in institutions such as community colleges would reopen. They will be able to welcome back students who were unable to complete courses with labs, studio, clinical, or shop requirements for their degrees in the spring.
- By mid-July, other nonresidential education programs might be reopening if public health conditions improve. Institutions may want to resume graduate programs and a few summer programs involving undergraduate students in residential settings may be allowed.
- By the end of the summer, if health conditions improve, undergraduate residential institutions may reopen if they choose.
When campuses reopen, they will urge everyone to wear masks. Six-foot separation will be enforce in pretty much every aspect. This goes for classroom, dining halls, and even in dorms.
"We can treat roommates and suite mates as though they are a family unit. We don't have to have everyone in single rooms, which would drastically reduce the size of our student body. We would ask that six-foot spacing be preserved elsewhere on campus," said Rick Levin Reopen CT Task Force.
The reopening phases are dependent on several public health conditions being met:
- The prevalence of the disease must be low enough to allow the safe resumption of campus operations.
- Institutions that will be housing students 24/7 must have access to enough COVID-19 tests so that entering students can be tests upon arrival, and those students testing positive must be immediately isolated.
- There must be an adequate capacity for contact tracing for the higher education institutions.
The Reopen CT Task Force is estimating 200,000 to 300,000 test will be needed by late August for the state's college and universities.
In order to reopen, each institution would be required to file reopening plans with the Department of Public Health, detailing how they plan to:
- Repopulate the campus in a phased way
- Monitor health conditions to detect infections
- Contain the spread of the disease when detected
- Shut down the campus in the event it becomes necessary
Professors will have the option to conduct online learning.
“Our colleges and universities are the springboard for so many to launch their careers, and they are an economic engine of the state,” Lamont said. “And of course it can’t go without saying that Connecticut’s great research universities are working to help bring an end to the current pandemic. Given the heterogeneity of our colleges and universities, one size won’t fit all, which is why we need carefully tailored guidelines for differing parts of this sector. This framework to reopen our higher education institutions is a vital component of our overall plan to reopen Connecticut.”
To read the full report, click here.