Eduvation Blog

Mouth-Watering News, Hold the Pepperoni, and the Inevitable Happens…

Good morning!

Many CdnPSEs have started registering students for fall courses, promoting online fitness classes, wellness resources, or even welcoming students back to campus to start their 14 days of self-isolation. Plenty are issuing updates about campus parking, fee payments, orientation programs and swag bags.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to tire of repetitive stories as we watch the inevitable unfold. So, I’m just going to spell out the safe assumptions below, and in future I’ll just bring any notable exceptions to your attention.

Hopefully, that will allow us time to look at more signals for the future as they appear around us. Watch for a series of “>FFWD” sections in the days ahead – starting with “junk food for thought” today.

Today we hear that Dalhousie expects the Winter 2021 term to be more of the same, Yale has come up with a quick and easy saliva COVID19 test, Canada scored in the top tier of countries for our handling of the pandemic, and more…

Breaking News

I predicted it would take at least two weeks, but this happened fast…

UNC Chapel Hill Surrenders

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced yesterday that, just days into the fall term, they are reversing their commitment to on-campus instruction (which itself was in blatant defiance of PHO guidance) and are moving all undergraduate instruction online effective tomorrow. You may recall that I highlighted the student/faculty “die-in” there, and that 3 outbreaks occurred in dorms last week. The system president says, “As much as we believe we have worked diligently to help create a healthy and safe campus living and learning environment, we believe the current data presents an untenable situation.” UNC

Students Tired of “Gaslighting”

The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper, doesn’t pull any punches: “We all saw this coming,” says the online headline. After 4 COVID19 “clusters” surfaced on campus, “UNC has a clusterf*ck on its hands,” says the print version (modesty mine, thanks to Bryan Alexander for the source). As the students conclude, “We’re angry — and we’re scared. We’re tired of the gaslighting, tired of the secrecy, tired of being treated like cash cows by a University with such blatant disregard for our lives.” Daily Tar Heel

The Inevitable

Call me a pessimist (or “the prophet of doom” – I answer to that, too). Based on the patterns we’ve seen unfold around the world over the past 6 months, it’s pretty safe to assume we will see the following in the months ahead too: Campuses will gradually reopen in phased manner, slightly behind the regional PHO guidance, with extensive attempts to maintain dynamic social distancing. All campuses will require masks in public indoor areas, at least part of the fall. (As a last nod, I will mention that uRegina has now announced mandatory masks effective Sept 1 – joining the 64% of institutions who have already made it policy.)

Many institutions will likely encourage use of the national COVID19 contact tracing app, and all will ask staff and students to screen for symptoms on a daily basis (although 40% of those infected experience no symptoms). Some may publish their results to dashboards, like uCalgary or UT Austin – who with 450 cases on campus is currently the national leader. To minimize campus density, large classes will remain onlineand many staff will continue to WFH. When they open at all, student residences will operate at half capacity, dining halls will provide prepackaged meals for take-out, and fitness centres will require booked appointments, spaced equipment, and showering at home.

Youth infection rates will continue to rise, as they have been doing in BC, Alberta and Manitoba in recent days, and some percentage of students will arrive on campus asymptomatic but infected. Parties on- and off-campus will meet with public outcry, administrators and student leaders will try to rein in student behaviour, but the inevitable outbreaks will result in extensive quarantines and potentially campus closures. (You would think it would take 14 days for symptoms to show, but UNC proved if you do COVID testing you can be overwhelmed even sooner than that.)

I suspect almost all CdnPSEs will hold firm on their tuition fees, although most are discounting part of the ancillary fees that relate to campus-only services. (I haven’t been reporting those because I’ve been assuming it will be pretty consistent.)

Plans for Winter 2021 Term

Although it’s starting to look inevitable too, I will keep an eye on early announcements for the winter 2021term, at least for a while yet. Some outliers like Cambridge, NSCC, OntarioTech, Queen’s and York made the declaration early, but most CdnPSEs are still actively considering it. Dalhousie U’s acting Provost announced yesterday that the winter term (Jan-Apr 2021) will see “a mix of online and in-person instruction… provided this can be done safely.” He observes, “we can say with confidence there will still be significant public health measures required in January to limit the spread of COVID19 — particularly given the possibility of a second wave of the virus and the absence of widely accessible treatments or a vaccine.” Final decisions on specific courses will be made by mid-September. Dal

A Little Good News

A Mouth-Watering Game Changer

Yale’s School of Public Health has developed a new saliva test for COVID19, which is easier and cheaper than the nasopharyngeal swab test in use to date. The US FDA issued “emergency use authorization” on Saturday for the “SalivaDirect” test, which uses materials costing under $5 per test, and can rapidly be scaled up nationally. It also will allow healthcare workers to keep their distance from patients, and of course will be farless uncomfortable. Yale

Canada is #12 for Safety

When it comes to economic, social and health stability during the pandemic, Canada has been ranked as a Tier 1 country, the #12 safest out of 200 in the world, behind the top 5 Switzerland, Germany, Israel, Singapore and Japan. Australia and New Zealand came in at #8 and #9, while the US sadly came in at #58 in Tier 3, well behind Mexico (#50), Italy (#53), and India (#56), and just ahead of the Slovak Republic (#59). Deep Knowledge Group used AI analysis of 11,400 data points on mortality, infection rates, emergency preparedness, government responses and more. Deep Knowledge Group

CdnPSE Updates

uCalgary’s summer Vet Camp for kids went virtual this year, with interactive video content on the anatomy of cows, horses, cats, dogs and birds, and a range of veterinary skills like bandaging, wildlife rehabilitation, disease monitoring and biosecurity. The students running the program created hours of video content, and hosted Zoom calls with the campers from all across the country – who got swag bags, scrubs, and a stethoscope. uCalgary

King’s UC at Western has launched a “virtual Student Life Centre” to allow the campus community to take part in online gatherings, virtual O-week, lectures and research seminars. It includes an event calendar, wellness resources, gift shop, information about student clubs, and a new online meeting room. King’s


In “>FFWD,” I’ll take a look at some obscure and unexpected consequences of the pandemic, often with repercussions for student life, academic programs, and the business of higher education. Today’s theme came to me in 30 minutes or less…

Takeout Pizza is Booming

With restaurants closed or operating below capacity, and some shelter-in-place orders still in effect, more people are ordering delivery, and pizza is the go-to. Last quarter, Domino’s reported a 16% increase in same-store sales, and a 30% spike in profits – leading it to hire 20,000 more people to handle the volume. On the other hand Pizza Hut, with 6,700 restaurants across the US, hit 8-year highs for carryout and delivery sales in May, but is closing 300 of its poorest-performing locations that focus on dine-in service. 680News

Hold the Pepperoni

With the surging demand for pizza, and disruptions in the meat processing supply chain, there’s now a pepperoni shortage, resulting in price increases of up to 50% for local pizza shops. Larger chains have long-term pepperoni contracts. (Will pepperoni stay “America’s favourite sliced topping,” or will they have to start ordering my favourite, Hawaiian?) Newsweek


Notable vids on YouTube this week…

Mount Royal U (Calgary) has a wonderful library staffed by some talented folks – you may recall I visited them for episodes of Ten with Ken about the evolving role of libraries, and the MakerStudio in particular. This week, they’ve released an upbeat 4-min video tour of the library’s services for the fall term, from contactless pickup and digitization services to online research support. YouTube

Allen Pan, a YouTuber who apparently shares my dismay at the anti-mask tantrums and second amendment protesters who would rather shoot someone than social distance, has invented a pneumatic “mask gun” to shoot masks onto people’s faces.  YouTube


Thanks for reading!  Stay safe and be well…

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