Social distancing and reopening universities after the COVID-19 pandemic: policy complexity in G20 countries

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  • Mohammad Nurunnabi
    Department of Accounting, College of Business Administration Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • Norah Almusharraf
    Applied Linguistics Department, College of Humanities, Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
    https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6362-4502

ABSTRACT

Background: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has affected the entire globe, and various mythologies argue about its diagnosis, cure, and prevention. Globally, as of September 18th, 2020, there have been 30.055 million confirmed cases, including 0.943 million deaths. The nationwide closures are impacting over 60% of the world’s student population. This study aimed to explore the social distancing policies and universities' reopening after COVID-19 in G20 countries (19 member countries and the European Union).

Design and Methods: 
The study is based on documentary analysis. G20 members represent around 80% of the world’s economic output, two-thirds of the global population (including more than half of the world's poor), and 75% of international trade. Based on documentary analysis, the study revealed that there is a policy dilemma among G20 countries regarding school reopening and a variety of conflicting policies within each country.

Results: 
Based on a sample of 838 universities in the USA, 66% of universities (552 of 838) plan for in-person instruction, while only 7% are planning for a completely online teaching mode in the fall 2020 semester.

Conclusions: 
Interestingly, none of the private universities in this study are planning to implement an online teaching mode. Policymakers need an integrated set of policy guidelines for school reopening, considering the evaluation of current COVID-19 pandemic circumstances and social distancing capacity.

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