Economic How open and face to face will fall semester...

How open and face to face will fall semester be? – Marginal REVOLUTION

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I am pleased to see Cornell mandating vaccination for all of its students.  Of course other colleges and universities can do the same.  Even if they do not take that step, it still seems it will be “safe enough” to hold most classes in-person in the Fall, if not sooner.

And yet.

Here is I think the issue.  Universities these days are not very good at “leaving people behind,” at least not as an act of open and deliberate commission.  What about students or faculty who just had organ transplants and who thus might have compromised immune systems and also high vulnerability to Covid?  Rather than the Coase theorem being applied, schools might make professors offer a hybrid option, namely that some students take the class face to face, and other students take it over Zoom, with a computer hooked up to cover the classroom.

Of course the mixed mode doesn’t work very well.  I’ve learned from meetings that an all on-line meeting usually is (much) better than a mixed meeting where some people are present and others on-line, or in the old days on the phone.

So imagine universities giving every student the option to check a box: “I want this class on-line so please make it a hybrid option.”

Except they don’t make anyone prove that they just had an organ transplant.

And then ten percent of the students prefer to live in Pakistan, California, Florida — wherever.  Those students check the box to make the class a hybrid option.  What happens?

Many classes “might just suck.”

Another option is that the class evolves into mainly on-line as a least worst option.

Another option — #3 — is that the university forgets about the box-checking option but nonetheless uses this as a chance to evolve toward a larger and more sensible on-line presence.

#3 might happen, but I don’t think it will be in place by this fall.  And thus you can see my worry about the pending fall semester in many institutions.  Will they have the stones to say “No, we’re just going to offer this one face to face”?

Stay tuned.

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