Daniel CollierW.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
Dan FitzpatrickUniversity of Michigan–Ann Arbor
Sam SnidemanBall State University
Christopher MarsicanoDavidson College & The College Crisis Initiative
The COVID-19 pandemic forced higher education institutions to reexamine their modes of instruction for the Fall 2020 semester. Some institutions chose to re-open for in-person instruction, others chose online or hybrid modalities. While it is assumed that institutions took into account public health concerns when making the decision on how to reopen, other factors may have played a role. Leveraging mode of instruction data for 2,938 colleges and universities, this paper examines the political, epidemiological, economic, and social factors related to Fall 2020 reopening plans. Surprisingly, it finds no discernible relationship between that county-level or state-level COVID-19 case counts and college or university reopening plan. Furthermore, campus demographics - such as White student enrollment - and state political characteristics - such as Governor's party - were related to campus mode of instruction decisions for the Fall 2020 semester.
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