Reopening Davidson College for the fall semester in the midst of COVID-19 will require novel and significant changes to our community in order to maximize safety while allowing personal interactions and classes to occur. These changes will likely involve behavioral changes by students, faculty, and staff as well as monitoring community health in addition to others. The community will need to be educated about best practices and everyone will need to commit to an altered campus life to support community health. We will also likely need to be flexible and adaptable and alter the college's approach as conditions change.
I propose the creation of a practicum that students could take for credit whereby they would learn about best practices for COVID on campus, have input on how to implement college policies, help implement these policies, and educate their peers on best practices. This could take many forms: Students could liase with health professionals and lead small groups of students in discussions to prepare for or adjust to life on campus with COVID. They could provide input on how to implement new safety measures on campus (classroom cleaning, wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, temperature checks, meal logistics). They could monitor and analyze effectiveness of ongoing efforts and suggest new directions. Student ownership of and active participation in crafting our institutional response to COVID will likely lead to better practices and compliance with new safety measures.
I believe a practicum like this could prepare students for future careers and positions in fields such as public health, policy, and management, develop humane instincts, allow for deeply meaningful learning and service, and bring out the best in our community.