U.S. Colleges Announce Fall 2020 Reopening Strategies
Many are opting to not hold in-person classes in December due to experts predicting a more severe second wave of COVID-19 infections in the fall.
U.S. institutions of higher education are edging closer to solidifying their plans to reopen campuses in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Unlike the California State University (CSU) system, which announced its plans to cancel all-in person classes and continue online instruction through the Fall 2020 semester due to COVID-19, the University of California (UC) system is adopting a hybrid approach. Some UC classes will continue to take place online, while others will be offered in classrooms and labs. UC President Janet Napolitano said more specific decisions about the Fall 2020 schedule could come by mid-June.
At the UC Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday, the board also approved standards that each UC campus must meet before reopening in-person operations. Those guidelines cover screening, testing, contact tracing, face masks, physical distancing and plans for quarantining and isolating anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus, reports KRON.
Meanwhile, the University of Texas (UT) says its 50,000 students will return to campus for the fall semester from late August until Thanksgiving, reports the Houston Chronicle. After the holiday, students won’t return to campus. Instead, they will take their final exams online.
UT is adopting this approach because pandemic experts believe a second, more serious COVID-19 outbreak could happen in the fall and winter months. There is also historical precedent for this move. Few deaths were reported during the first stage of the 1918 flu pandemic, which happened in the spring of that year. When the virus resurfaced in the fall, however, it was much more severe.
Additionally, the spike in COVID-19 infections will most likely coincide with traditional flu season, reports Yahoo News.
Some other schools are also opting to not offer in-person classes this December and have modified their fall schedules. Notre Dame University, the University of South Carolina, Purdue University in Indiana, and Marquette University in Wisconsin will reopen in the fall but won’t hold classes the final month of the year, reports The Hill.
If the predicted, more severe, second wave of coronavirus comes, states will most likely reinstate the social distancing orders that were implemented this spring and campuses will need to follow suit.