As COVID-19 spread and other colleges and universities followed suit, the presidents of community colleges—institutions that have fewer resources and serve more at-risk students—were forced to think cautiously about the decision to close. On the one hand, there is the concern for safety; on the other, concerns about the realities of students’ lives. What exactly would community college students be going home to? 

The perspectives offered by philosophers and historians are more critical than ever as we confront the metaphysics of being human and conscious of living in the world. For despite the extraordinary advances that have been made in science over the centuries, appealing to technology is futile when it comes to grappling with the most fundamental questions of human existence rendered unavoidable by the proliferation of the coronavirus.