Universities Announce Plans for Fall Semester in Response to COVID-19

A number of universities have announced plans for the fall semester against the backdrop of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As plans continue to be announced, Student Housing Business is working to compile an up-to-date resource for the industry on planning for the upcoming academic year. Please check back often, as this page will be updated as news filters in.

Boston College

Boston College has announced plans to open for on-campus classes as scheduled on August 31. Further planning is underway for implementing physical distancing and food distribution protocols for dining facilities, increasing sanitization for buildings and for the use of technology for meetings and events. University health services has developed testing and isolation procedures in response to COVID-19 and administrators are continuing to refine plans and policies for the resumption of on-campus life this fall. 

California State University System

The California State University system has announced that classes will primarily be delivered virtually for the fall 2020 semester, with limited exceptions for in-person teaching, learning and research activities that cannot be delivered virtually. These activities will only take place if they are indispensable to the university’s core mission and they will be conducted using rigorous standards for safety and welfare.

These exceptions might include clinical classes with training mannequins for nursing students; essential physical and life science laboratory classes enabling degree completion and entry into the energy and bioscience fields; access to kilns and other unique facilities for students in performing and creative arts; hands-on experience with unique instrumentation and senior capstone projects for engineering, architecture and agriculture students; and access to the blue-water, hands-on interactive simulator for boat and ship handling to provide students with knowledge, understanding and skills necessary for the maritime industry and required for licensure by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.N. International Maritime Organization.

Harvard University 

Harvard University is set to open for the fall semester, but some or all instruction may continue to be online, according to reports by CNN. “Our goal is to bring our students, faculty, postdoctoral fellows and staff to campus as quickly as possible,” Harvard Provost Alan Garber wrote in an open letter Monday, “but because most projections suggest that COVID-19 will remain a serious threat during the coming months, we cannot be certain that it will be safe to resume all usual activities on campus by then. Consequently, we will need to prepare for a scenario in which much or all learning will be conducted remotely.”

Ithaca College

Ithaca College has announced plans to begin the 2020-21 academic year in-person on October 5. The college has created a task force charged with ensuring that the appropriate health and safety guidelines are being incorporated into all aspects of operations.

Montana State University 

Montana State University has announced plans to start the fall semester on August 17 — two weeks earlier than originally planned — and end the day before Thanksgiving break on November 25. The university is underway on planning for education and hygiene measures, screening and quarantine for students who live in campus residence halls.

Murray State University

Murray State University has announced plans to begin a phased reopening of campus on June 1. This process will continue through the summer months leading up to fall semester. A traditional fall semester is expected for the university, but adjustments are expected to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff. 

New York University

New York University is planning to resume in-person classes this fall. The university is currently working with deans, faculty and administrators to offer options for taking classes in the fall regardless of any travel impediments that students might face. Plans include offering classes in a mixed mode to enable students to participate in-person or remotely; spreading classes over two or three semesters (a fall, spring and summer term for 2021) without additional tuition costs; and expanding 2021 summer internship opportunities so that students can pursue them while also taking summer courses.

North Carolina State University 

North Carolina State University (NC State) has announced plans to welcome new and returning students on campus for the start of the upcoming academic year. The university is prepared to adjust plans as needed based on conditions at the time of reopening, and will be working over the next few weeks alongside system officials to make a decision on the best path forward for the fall semester. 

“We’re not naïve about the fact that COVID-19 will continue to cause challenges to the ways we are accustomed to conducting our teaching, studying, research, outreach and other daily work,” says Randy Woodson, chancellor of NC State. “In our ‘think and do’ spirit, we are committed to creating solutions that will keep the NC State community safe and strong, protect high-risk members of our pack and best serve our students.”

Purdue University 

Purdue University has announced plans to accept students on-campus in typical numbers for the upcoming fall semester. The university is considering new policies and practices to keep the younger student population separated from older faculty members or members of the population with underlying health conditions. 

“Purdue University intends to accept students on campus in typical numbers this fall, sober about the certain problems that the COVID-19 virus represents, but determined not to surrender helplessly to those difficulties but to tackle and manage them aggressively and creatively,” says Mitchell Daniels Jr., president of Purdue University.

New safety measures under consideration include spreading out classes across days and times to reduce size; use of online instruction for on-campus students; virtual lab work; requiring vulnerable members of the Purdue community to work remotely; and pre-testing students and staff prior to arrival in August for both infection and post-infection immunity through antibodies. Anyone — be it student or faculty — showing symptoms will be tested promptly and quarantined, if positive, in a space set aside for that purpose.

Radford University

Radford University has announced plans to reopen for the fall 2020 semester. Full operations are expected for on-campus housing, dining services and in-person instruction beginning on August 24. The reopening process is scheduled to begin on August 3. 

University of Central Oklahoma

The University of Central Oklahoma has announced plans to resume in-person classes and activities on-campus this fall. The university is currently working to identify and implement proper safety protocols in anticipation of the return of students, faculty and staff. Plans for faculty and staff to gradually return to campus beginning June 1 are being developed within each division of the university and will be finalized over the coming weeks. 

University of Colorado Boulder

The University of Colorado Boulder is exploring plans for the fall semester that include a blend of in-person and remote learning, flexible course delivery models, student cohorts and condensed terms. Laboratory and studio experiences are likely to be modified to ensure students and faculty are brought together safely. 

The university’s plans will also provide for a phased return to research, scholarship and creative work and flexible campus life and co-curricular experiences for new and returning undergraduate and graduate students.

University of Hawaiʻi

The University of Hawaiʻi system (UH) plans to resume in-person instruction for the fall 2020 semester on all 10 campuses. UH will deploy a COVID-19-aware approach to providing a safe environment for new and returning students, faculty and support staff. Campuses are expected to open as scheduled on Monday, August 24. 

Current plans for implementing social distancing and hygienic practices include preparing for greater use of online resources, with some classes shifting to hybrid models featuring a mix of on-campus and online instruction; physical reconfiguration of classrooms, labs, study areas and workspaces where necessary to support distances of at least six feet between students and faculty; provisions to enable regular hand cleansing; and protocols for testing, contract tracing and quarantine as needed.

University of Nebraska

While summer courses will be offered remote, in-person classes are expected to resume this fall at the University of Nebraska. The university is working with health professionals at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) to plan for a safe return to campus for students and faculty. 

“We will always be informed by the science and we will act decisively if we need to change course to protect our community,” says Ted Carter, president of the University of Nebraska system. “We continue to plan for a variety of scenarios for the fall, including a shift to remote learning and working if conditions necessitate.”

University of New England

The University of New England has announced plans to reopen its Maine campuses in time for the fall semester. The university is currently developing a plan for the fall semester that will include modifications to the campus experience. Students who are unable to return to campus immediately due to increased risks associated with underlying health conditions will be offered a parallel online track, enabling them to keep up with their coursework remotely until they feel they can safely rejoin campus. These same alternatives will be available for students that are temporarily unable to attend in-person classes due to contracting the virus. 

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) has announced plans to delay the beginning of fall semester to Labor Day — Monday, September 7 — two weeks after the university’s previously scheduled start date of August 24. 

“Given our unique location in North Carolina’s largest city, these two weeks allow additional time between the projected peak of the virus in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and the start of the academic year,” says Chancellor Philip Dubois. “We are seeing the flattening of the virus’s curve as a result of social distancing, but county health authorities tell us the peak in the outbreak in Charlotte is now projected to occur in mid-June. As the city begins to return to life as a hub for global business and travel, we will assess any additional safety protocols that may be necessary on our campus.”

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame has announced plans to welcome students back to campus on August 10, two weeks earlier than originally scheduled. The university will also forego fall break in October and will end the semester before Thanksgiving. Plans for fall semester include comprehensive testing for COVID-19, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, social distancing and mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning of all campus spaces. 

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is taking initial steps to plan for a return to on-campus operations. Campuses in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint are expected to reopen gradually as health and safety conditions allow. President Mark Schlissel says he is, “cautiously optimistic,” the university will be able to deliver, “as much in-person instruction as possible,” during the fall semester, but many questions remain about how that will be accomplished, according to a report released by the university on May 5. 

The Office of the Provost has launched a set of committees including academic leaders and faculty members to focus on fall semester academic planning for the university’s Ann Arbor campus. Topics to be addressed include instruction of large and small classes, co-curricular activities and engaged learning, and what resources will be available from the university’s Center for Academic Innovation, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching and Information and Technology Services.

University of Oklahoma

On April 24, Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. announced plans to return to in-person educational operations on all three University of Oklahoma campuses this fall. Current plans include traditional residential life and instruction models. 

Safety measures to be implemented this fall will include adapting class schedules as needed; utilizing larger classrooms for the practice of greater social distancing; enabling the widespread use of masks and other PPE; increasing on-campus testing for the virus; and providing enhanced cleaning throughout all of the university’s campuses. 

University of San Diego

The University of San Diego has announced a six-point plan for reopening campus in mid-August for the start of the fall semester. This plan will include offering access to testing for the virus on-campus; ensuring all residence halls have only one- or two-students per-room; identifying spaces on-campus for isolating any students who need to be quarantined; adhering to social distancing in classrooms; doubling down on cleaning rotations for classrooms, public spaces and restrooms; installing new IT equipment in 125 classrooms; and changing the academic calendar for undergraduates to start early on August 17 so that the university is able to end the fall semester before Thanksgiving and before the beginning of the flu season in San Diego. 

University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina is set to resume in-person instruction in mid-August. The university is also expanding its online course offerings to accommodate those who choose to remain off-campus. Fall break has been cancelled and face-to-face instruction is set to end before Thanksgiving break. Classes will be remote starting on November 30. 

Tagged under