Returning to Campus During COVID-19

The Fall 2020 Semester officially launched in August, with classes beginning on Monday, August 17. While this time of year remains characterized by many of the traditional sights and occurrences—with on-campus classes underway, students studying or enjoying lunch under the shade of historic oak trees, and campus offices buzzing with activity—there have also been several operational changes in response to ongoing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

a081720_252The academic calendar was modified to feature a slightly earlier start date and the elimination of semester breaks and holidays to allow class instruction to end prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Final exams will occur remotely after Thanksgiving. Many colleges and universities have adopted similar calendar changes out of concern about a possible resurgence of COVID-19 cases in late fall coinciding with the regular flu season.

While some classes are being offered in person, with safety measures that include social distancing and required use of masks while in the classroom or any campus indoor space, there are also expanded online, virtual, and hybrid course offerings. Should the need occur due to an acceleration of the pandemic, all classes are prepared to transition to remote delivery on short notice.

Additionally, large events and athletic competitions will not be physically held. Fall team sports’ seasons, including that of football, are postponed until Spring 2021. Other events, such as Welcome Week (August 14-20) and Homecoming Week (October 19-24), have been given a virtual refresh with online ways to stay engaged.

Despite the many obstacles presented by COVID-19, the semester has launched with much success and the University, faculty and staff, and students continue to overcome the challenges. Fall enrollment reached 14,461, a 1.4 percent increase and the most in three years.

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