Purdue and IU leaders confront topic of when students can return to campus

Posted at 3:28 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 15:32:21-04

WEST LAFAYETTE — When will students be able to return to Purdue and Indiana Universities and what will campus life look like when they do? It's a topic leaders at both schools addressed this week.

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels penned a letter to the campus community Tuesday that said the university will open for the beginning of fall semester in August if the government allows colleges to operate as usual, and he outlined some of the changes that will be necessary if on-campus classes resume.

Daniels described COVID-19 as "one of the inevitable risks of life," and wrote that Purdue should tackle the problem and not hide from it.

"Purdue University, for its part, intends to accept students on campus in typical numbers this fall, sober about the certain problems that the COVID-19 virus represents, but determined not to surrender helplessly to those difficulties but to tackle and manage them aggressively and creatively," Daniels wrote.

Daniels emphasized that statistics show college-age students are not typically at a high risk for death from COVID-19, which is confirmed to have killed 630 people in Indiana, and that the more significant risk is students passing the illness to older faculty members and staff.

Any new policies and practices the university develops, Daniels explained, would be to keep the younger and older members of the campus separate or minimize contact between them.

"Literally, our students pose a far greater danger to others than the virus poses to them. We all have a role, and a responsibility, in ensuring the health of the Purdue community," Daniels wrote.

Indiana University Provost Lauren Robel said in a State of the Campus address posted to IU's website that there is no specific timeline for when in-person classes will begin, but she expressed confidence that normalcy will return to the Bloomington campus.

"No one knows when the residential education and collegial encounters we value so deeply will resume, but resume they will,' Robel wrote. "We are planning now for all of the contingencies that will make it possible to be together again."

The cancellation of in-person classes created an especially significant challenge at IU that Robel said required more than 8,000 classes to be moved online this semester.

"While we believe deeply in residential education, and we long for its return, everyone on this campus with responsibility for students has gone above and beyond to ensure that our students are supported, know that we care about them, and are making progress towards their degrees," Robel said.