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Today is the last day of April, and what a month it has been.

No doubt some poignant reflections on the past 30 days on lockdown will circulate the internet today.

But if quarantine life is stifling your creativity, fear not. AI-generated memes are here, and they make about as much sense as the past month did. Enjoy some computer-generated silliness.

On to the news.

The University of North Carolina system joined a growing number of campuses signaling their intent to open this fall. Bill Roper, the system’s interim president, said in a written statement that North Carolina would “likely have improved capacity for tracking student exposure and greater access to the tools, materials and supplies that can help minimize the virus’s threat.” Roper is not the first college president to voice hopes for digital tools to enable campuses to track potential COVID-19 exposures.

In a widely circulated opinion piece in The New York Times, Christina Paxson, president of Brown University, suggested that mobile apps to trace the disease could play a big role in helping institutions manage potential campus outbreaks. Early indications suggest these kinds of apps might not be popular with the public, however. A poll published yesterday by The Washington Post with the University of Maryland, College Park, suggests that nearly three in five Americans would be unable or unwilling to use the infection-alert tools being developed by big tech companies. The Washington Post suggested it would therefore be “difficult to persuade enough people to use the app to make it effective.”

Here’s a quick roundup of our latest stories, in case you’ve fallen a bit behind (we don’t blame you):

Colleen Flaherty probes the phenomenon of Zoom fatigue and asks whether the synchronous instruction trend should continue into future semesters.

Four-year colleges could face a 20 percent drop in enrollment this fall, survey data suggest. Scott Jaschik highlights key findings, including troubling prospects for minority students.

Several colleges have announced their intent to fully reopen campuses this fall, including student housing and dining, reports Paul Fain.

In related news, Inside Higher Ed contributors Edward J. Maloney and Joshua Kim’s 15 Fall Scenarios article has been trending all week. If you haven’t already, check it out and tell us which options your campus is currently considering.

News From Elsewhere

Feeling cooped up? Ohio State University is offering a free webcast series on how to rear chickens at home that is proving popular with locals. Read about it in Edscoop.

Rising geopolitical tensions between China and Australia could have a devastating impact on Australian universities, Times Higher Ed reports.

The student who created that impressive replica of the University of Pennsylvania campus in Minecraft is planning a virtual graduation ceremony, according to EdSurge.

And finally, aspiring undergraduates talk to NPR about their struggle to make the right call on where to go to college with limited information on what might happen in the fall.

Percolating Thoughts

Tomorrow, May 1, is national decision day. For college admissions officers, this day always is an important indicator of how many students they can expect to attend in the fall. This year, however, the results may take on new significance -- indicating which colleges may be hit hardest by the pandemic.

Around 400 colleges have already delayed their decision day to June 1, so it is unclear how much information will emerge following tomorrow’s deadline. But the negative impact on would-be college students is already evident.

“April is supposed to be such a joyous moment for our seniors,” Zachary Montez, a college counselor for the nonprofit Denver Scholarship Foundation, told NPR. “With this whole pandemic coming into focus, that uncertainty students are now facing is just so debilitating.”

Have any percolating thoughts or notice any from others? Feel free to send them our way or comment below.

We’ll continue bringing you the news you need in this crazy time. Keep sending us your questions and story ideas. We’ll get through this together.

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