Learning about the spread of COVID-19 on college campuses

A sign reads "keep a corn stalk between you and others"
A sign notes coronavirus-related guidelines on Concordia College campus in Moorhead, Minn.
Matt Mikus | MPR News

Like everything else, college looks very different this year.

Some campuses welcomed students back for in-person learning. Some colleges opted to keep classes mostly online. Other schools have opened up, experienced outbreaks and asked students to quarantine.

The ad-hoc nature of these plans reflects the greater patchwork of the COVID-19 response,  where social distancing protocols, community spread and access to testing vary from state to state.

What has the beginning of this academic year taught us about the viability of a more “normal” spring semester?

Thursday, two guests joined MPR News host Kerri Miller for a conversation about which reopening methods work well, which ones do not and what might need to change as flu season comes to campus.


  • Dr. Preeti Malani is chief health officer at the University of Michigan and professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases.

  • Michael Vasquez is a senior investigative reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Correction (Sept. 24, 2020): During the live show, host Kerri Miller incorrectly stated that the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse was instituting a shelter-in-place order Thursday evening. In fact, the order took effect at 5 p.m. on Sept. 13, and lasts until Sept. 27. The audio attached in this post has been corrected.

Editor’s note (Sept. 20, 2020): This show was originally scheduled for Monday but was moved to Thursday to cover the news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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