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Return to Campus: A Practical Guide for Managing COVID-19


Never before has an entire industry, let alone an individual college or university, been confronted with risk issues like those now posed by COVID-19. Since the evacuations from campuses worldwide began in January, students, faculty, and staff have been eagerly awaiting the eventual return to the campus.  Schools across the globe are beginning to initiate the strategic planning necessary for the fall term's potential reopening of campus.

This guide was created to identify issues relating to the eventual return to campus as the immediate shelter in place controls around COVID-19 are relaxed.  The world’s knowledge regarding COVID-19 mitigation strategies continues to evolve and our guidance is based on the most recent thinking and practices as of June 15, 2020.  However, as institutions of higher learning look to transition from lockdown to return to campus, we recognize that the period of transition may be extended and may include starts and stops to address virus flare-ups and hot spots, so flexibility and thoughtful planning will be essential.

Marsh has focused the guide on identifying immediate questions and actions for clients to consider as they prepare, implement, and manage a return to campus. While our guidance is extensive, it is not exhaustive; each client must assess factors and considerations, many of which are constantly changing, and specific to their institutions, including directives and guidance from federal, state, and local units of government.  In this document, we offer considerations for those directing the return to campus efforts. The guidance in this document can apply to all schools, recognizing that every college and university, large and small, urban or rural, community college, or national research university, must adopt a custom plan that suits its personal situation and forecast for the potential viral impact on operations. For many institutions, survival may depend on the path taken.

To use this guide effectively, Marsh recommends that institutions:

  • Identify their readiness for return to campus.
  • Develop a plan.
  • Implement and continuously update the plan based on experience and changing conditions specific to their institution, including governmental directives and guidance.