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

by Katie Sloan

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.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University is set to resume on-campus, in-person classes on Aug. 20. The university will offer courses in a variety of learning environments to accommodate students’ needs depending on location or circumstance as a result of COVID-19. For the majority of classes, on-campus students will have access to the following three learning environments:

  1. On-campus, in-person classes in a technology-enhanced learning environment;
  2. ‘ASU Sync’ classes or synchronous, technology-enhanced and fully interactive remote learning using live lectures via Zoom. This approach can be used simultaneously with in-person instruction to accommodate students in different circumstances and enable social distancing in classrooms or as stand-alone technology. It offers the benefits of face-to-face instruction in an interactive group learning environment;
  3. and iCourses or courses delivered entirely online with lectures available on demand.

Employees and students will be required to wear a face cover while in university buildings. Face coverings will also be required in outdoor community spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. Out-of-state and international students who wish to attend classes on campus but may not be able to arrive in time for the start of the semester will be given the opportunity to learn through ‘ASU Sync’ for the first half of the semester, and if necessary, the full semester.

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.

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University has announced plans for students to return on-campus for fall semester, including: 

  • A phased return of students to BYU on-campus housing;
  • Hybrid classes that combine in-person and remote learning;
  • An expanded number of BYU Online courses;
  • COVID-19 testing for sick individuals and some testing of asymptomatic individuals;
  • Contact tracing in partnership with the Utah County Health Department;
  • A phased approach for reintroducing activities and events;
  • The required use of masks by students, faculty, staff and visitors; and
  • A shift to remote instruction and exams after Thanksgiving.

 Brown University 

Brown University is pursuing a three-term academic calendar that provides for a “de-densified” approach for the transition of students to campus starting in fall 2020. The university will reduce the number of students studying in Providence, offer remote learning and instruction options, and implement extensive health and safety protocols and policies to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on campus.

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.

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University has announced plans to reopen this fall. The university will begin the fall semester early on August 17 and end on November 25. Residence hall move-in is scheduled for August 13 by appointment to ensure social distancing. Face-to-face classes will follow social distancing guidelines and include simultaneous remote access. 

Cornell University

Cornell University has announced plans for the fall semester, including a hybrid approach to a residential semester (with in-person, online and hybrid teaching modalities), robust virus testing, and modifications to the academic calendar that will allow students to begin classes on Sept. 2 and return home for Thanksgiving and finish the semester remotely.

Elon University

Elon University has resumed campus operations and faculty and staff are working to prepare for the resumption of on-campus classes for fall 2020.

Beginning in mid-August, the university’s Schar Center will serve as a one-stop check-in center. Immediately upon arrival to campus (and before going to their residence halls or offices), all students and their family members, as well as faculty and staff who have not been on campus during the summer, must complete the following screening activities:

  • A COVID-19 self-screening questionnaire;
  • speak with an Elon staff member about any health-related questions or concerns;
  • receive a personal Elon face covering and health kit;
  • and complete a short educational module to learn about campus policies and protocols to protect our community’s health and wellness.

Students will be given a move-in appointment time and students are encouraged to only bring one or two family members for move-in.  All students, faculty and staff will be expected to complete their own daily self-checkup to help monitor their own health.

Harvard University 

Update: University President, Larry Bacow, FAS Edgerley Family Dean, Claudine Gay, and Danoff Dean of the College, Rakesh Khurana, co-authored a message to the faculty of arts and sciences community on July 6 that described a path forward for fall, which will allow first-year students the opportunity to adjust to college academics and to begin creating connections with faculty and other classmates while learning on-campus in September.

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.”

Indiana University

Indiana University has announced plans to welcome students back to campus for the fall semester on August 24. The university will offer a mixture of in-person and online courses. Classes will move to an online-only format from November 30 to December 20. Spring semester will resume January 19 online and in-person classes will begin on February 7. Most residence hall rooms on Indiana University campuses will be single occupancy and intensive cleaning protocols will be enforced.

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.

Kansas State University

Kansas State University has announced that in-person classes will resume for the fall 2020 semester. The university is moving the semester start date up a week to Monday, Aug. 17, and is making other adjustments to the academic calendar. Residence halls and dining centers will be open for the fall 2020 semester and the university is incorporating extra health and safety measures.

Michigan State University

Michigan State University has announced plans to bring students, faculty and staff back on-campus for the fall semester. The president of the university, Samuel L. Stanley Jr., is working alongside a COVID-19 reopening campus task force to further develop a plan for the fall semester.

Mississippi State University

Mississippi State has announced a revised fall academic calendar. Considering the potential effect of a late fall peak of the coronavirus, the restructured calendar has students beginning classes on August 17 with commencement set for November 25 in Starkville and December 1 at MSU-Meridian. Along with calendar changes, the university is establishing additional health protocols and enhancing campus operations that follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, state and local public health officials and university COVID-19 task forces that include administration, faculty, staff and students.

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.”

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University has announced plans to welcome students back to campus for in-person classes and other activities in a limited fashion this fall. The fall semester will begin as originally scheduled on Monday, Aug. 24, but campus-based, residential instruction will end Friday, Nov. 20, with the remainder of the semester — including final examinations — being delivered remotely and online when classes resume after Thanksgiving break on Nov. 30.

Princeton University 

Princeton has announced plans to invite approximately half of its undergraduate population to campus each semester with most teaching set to remain online. The university will welcome the incoming class of 2024, as well as rising juniors, back to campus in August. In the spring term, the university will welcome back sophomores and seniors in the graduating Class of 2021.

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. 

Rutgers University

Rutgers University is planning for a fall 2020 semester that will combine a majority of remotely delivered courses with a limited number of in-person classes. On-campus housing across Rutgers will be extremely limited.

Sam Houston State

Sam Houston State University has announced plans to resume in-person classes for the fall semester. The university has commissioned a number of work groups to review specific challenges within key areas in order to develop recommendations and plans along a continuum of scenarios. These groups are analyzing classroom environments, specialized class activities, academic support services, events/performances, student support services and emergency operations. Further details will be announced at a later date.

St. John’s University

St. John’s University has announced plans to resume on-campus classes on Aug. 24. The university will remain open and classes will be held on Labor Day. Final exams will be conducted remotely during the week following Thanksgiving. Classes will be offered in a combination of in-person courses, online courses and a hybrid model incorporating both forms of classwork. Everyone on-campus will be provided with reusable cloth face masks that they are required to wear. 

Temple University

Temple University has announced plans to reopen for the fall semester on August 24. The university intends to offer a blend of both in-person and virtual classes. Further details will be announced this summer.

Texas A&M

Texas A&M has announced plans to open for the fall semester. The university plans to offer in-person classes with remote options for every course. Classes are set to begin — earlier than scheduled — on August 19. The university is redesigning schedules to hold classes on extended days, with potential for classes Monday through Saturday in order to enhance physical distancing. Classes will end prior to Thanksgiving break, though campus services will remain available. Move-ins will be conducted in phases with scheduled appointments to promote social distancing for the safety of residents. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting will be underway campus-wide. Further details are being worked out and will be announced this summer. 

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 Connecticut 

The University of Connecticut is actively planning to welcome new and returning students, faculty and staff back to its campuses this fall. Reduced density in residence halls, take-out only dining and physical distancing measures will be implemented throughout the university’s facilities. Classes will be provided in a range of formats including in-person, online and a combination of the two formats. Faculty and students who prefer a fully online experience for fall 2020 will be accommodated. Classes will begin as planned on August 31. Students will not return following Thanksgiving break; the remainder of the semester after Thanksgiving will be entirely online to allow for the completion of the required curriculum, which can include any activities that support preparation for exams. There will be no in-person final exams.

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 Miami

The University of Miami plans to reopen classrooms and residence halls to students for the fall 2020 semester and resume on-campus, in-person instruction. To maximize time on-campus and to minimize the potential risk for virus transmission and spread, the university will follow a modified fall semester academic calendar. Fall classes will commence on-campus on  Aug. 17 — one week earlier than originally planned — and conclude on Nov. 20— the Friday before Thanksgiving. There will be one additional day of online-only instruction on Nov. 23 and a reading day will take place on Nov. 24. Final exams, which will be conducted exclusively online, will take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4.

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 North Florida

The University of North Florida Board of Trustees has approved a plan for reopening campus in the fall. Further details will be announced later this summer.

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 Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh has announced plans to reopen campus for the fall semester. The university has changed the fall semester academic calendar to bring students back to campus a few weeks earlier in August and allow in-person classes to conclude prior to Thanksgiving. In the coming weeks, the university will be announcing measures they are taking to de-densify campus — including residence halls, dining halls and classrooms, and modifications to restrict these spaces and other campus facilities.

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. 

University of South Florida

The University of South Florida has announced plans to offer in-person classes this fall. Campus will open for fall semester on August 24 and in-person classes will end on November 25. Classes will be offered online-only through the end of the fall semester on December 4. Residence halls and dining options will remain open after Thanksgiving break for students who need access until the end of the fall semester.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University has announced plans to resume in-person classes for the fall semester. In-person, on-campus undergraduate classes will begin on Aug. 24 and will conclude on Nov. 20. All undergraduate students will complete the final week of classes remotely and will also take final exams remotely through virtual and alternative platforms, with the semester concluding on Dec. 13. Undergraduate residential students who are able to do so will leave campus for the Thanksgiving holiday and will not return to campus until the start of the spring semester.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech has announced plans to offer a blend of in-person and online classes for the fall semester. Instruction on campus will start on Aug. 24 and the semester will conclude on Dec. 16, as originally scheduled. In order to mitigate the risks associated with an anticipated late-fall resurgence of this disease, the university plans to pivot to online instruction and exams after Thanksgiving break. Further details will be announced later this summer.

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