A story in the Detroit News this morning looks at what college life might look like in the fall, if colleges are allowed to re-open their campuses to students.

While there are no surprises, it still is a stark reminder of how much has changed in everyone's daily life since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, back in late February and early March.

One item that jumps out due to its local interest is the staff cuts at Western Michigan University. Facing an unprecedented financial shortfall, WMU has already laid off nearly 250 employees, and there could be more layoffs in the future. How many of those will be back in their jobs should school reopen remains a question. If there is a positive note, several institutions have decided to not raise their tuition rates, but this may be false comfort, as the cost of professorial salaries are contractually set. The remaining costs for students are not fixed, and could potentially skyrocket with the added costs of decontamination, sterilization and maintenance. One important point in the report states that approximately 70% of Western's budget is tied to salaries.

Another factor still undecided, though probably being discussed, is how to allow student to return to classes. And this also factors into the enrollment rate, which translates into income for the schools. One unanswered question is how willing will students be to actually come to campus and go to class, due to safety concerns, while the reverse question is, how will schools allow for classroom attendance, and will there be a mix of online and in-person attendance options and/or requirements. How will social distancing be implemented and enforced? Decisions about classes with lab session time will certainly be affected by this.

These are just some of the many unknowns.

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