They have exposed campus outbreaks and questioned reopening plans. They have documented social-distancing violations at fraternity and sorority houses. They have tracked and explained fast-breaking changes to instructional modes and commencement events. They have demanded transparency from school administrators. And through it all they have boldly told the story of the human experience.

Famously, at the University of North Carolina, the Daily Tar Heel published a biting editorial under the headline “UNC has a clusterfuck on its hands,” after virus clusters were identified in campus housing. And the day that Notre Dame announced it would move only temporarily to virtual learning, its student newspaper, The Observer, ran this front-page plea: “Don’t make us write obituaries.”

Student journalists at the University of Georgia, where I teach, have reported relentlessly on the institution’s dubious covid-19 testing capacities and data-reporting practices. The Baron News, the student outlet at Fountain Valley High School in California, unraveled a safety-plan dispute involving district leaders and the teachers’ union. The Charger Online, at Carroll High School in Indiana, captured the unique challenges of navigating the pandemic as an exchange student. And so on.