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19 AUG 2021
1. Some US universities adjust their reopening plans ahead of the fall semester amid looming apprehension around COVID circumstances
Earlier this year many universities were broadcasting plans about “returning to some form of normalcy” at the start of the fall semester — but with threats posed by the COVID-19 Delta variant and vaccination hesitancy in the US, some colleges have opted to modify their plans for students’ return. Precautions vary widely from one university to the next, with some requiring just a COVID test upon returning to campus while others require students and staff to be fully vaccinated. Notably, Stanford will require vaccines and weekly COVID testing; and some unis will minimize risks entirely by starting the semester online.
Crimson’s Take: The last two years have taught us all about the unpredictability of a global pandemic and the immeasurable value of remaining agile and adaptable. The question of how best to manage COVID-19 circumstances on college campuses is a complex one with no single, correct answer — but we’re confident that every university is doing what its leadership thinks is best given these truly unusual times. We can only hope that the obstacles and limitations posed by the coronavirus will soon be a thing of the past, as we know how valuable and formative a student’s college experience can be.
2. UK students receiving top marks on their GCSE and A-Level exams reveals new data and questions about admissions at top UK unis
Students in the UK received their GCSE and A-Level results this week, both determined by teachers after this year’s exams were cancelled, and a second year of high marks has some feeling triumphant and others feeling worried. With “nearly 45% of A-level entries across the UK [awarded] top grades,” early admissions data suggests the proportion of state school pupils heading to Cambridge this fall will reach a record-high 72% — a largely well-received figure. However, some point out that “a possible surge in top grades” could put admissions offices in a difficult position, with more offers extended than the number of available places.
Crimson’s Take: Another item to add to the list of ways in which we could not foresee the coronavirus affecting university admissions so dramatically! We always delight in news about elite universities like Cambridge accepting more students from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds — but we also know that there’s a delicate balance between the number of offers top schools extend to their applicants and the number of places they’re actually able to fill. We’ll be curious to see how this year’s admissions trends play out as it becomes clearer each day that the effects of the pandemic will continue to ripple through the higher education landscape for longer than we once predicted.
3. Students at US universities are warned against falsifying vaccine cards to meet requirements for in-person learning
With hundreds of colleges in the US implementing COVID-19 vaccine requirements for students and staff returning to campus this fall, there is growing concern about the potential for some students to “skirt mandates” by submitting fake documentation. However, school officials and other higher education experts are pointing out that students would be “risking disastrous consequences” by falsifying vaccine cards, noting “‘at minimum, it’s likely to be a federal crime’” and, according to leaders at multiple institutions, “expulsion from school is on the table as a disciplinary option.”
Crimson’s Take: By now it’s clear that the severity of COVID-19 is not to be taken lightly — and with universities and governments alike doing all they can to mitigate the spread of the virus, we are not surprised to learn that the consequences of using a fake vaccine card to meet campus requirements are just as severe! We’re optimistic that the large majority of students at US universities are on board with vaccination efforts and are striving towards the same post-pandemic world we’d all like to live in soon.