Several Colleges and Universities Announce Plans for Reopening in Fall 2020

Nearly a week after the California State University (CSU) system announced it plans to cancel all in-person classes this fall for approximately 482,000 students, several colleges and universities across the country are outlining plans to reopen in the fall.

Notre Dame University (Notre Dame), Purdue University, the University of South Carolina (UofSC), Marquette University, and Regis University all recently announced plans to reconvene in August, some a few weeks early, and then move to remote instruction after Thanksgiving break. This is when health officials have deemed a resurgence of COVID-19 to be most likely, further complicated by an alignment with the traditional influenza season.

[Above: Notre Dame University]

Many of these schools are also canceling fall breaks in order to contain the virus as much as possible.

In addition, Notre Dame is asking professors to prepare both online and in-person versions of their classes so that students who may be sick or quarantined can keep up with their studies, according to an article in The New York Times.

Meanwhile, Ithaca College President Shirley Collado wrote a letter to the campus community on Monday saying the college would start its academic year on Oct. 5 in order to allow time for thoughtful preparation and flexibility amid the uncertainties of the coronavirus, as reported by The Ithaca Journal.

New York University, located in one of the American cities most gravely affected by the pandemic, is also set to open in the fall, both in New York and at its global sites across the world, as stated in a letter issued by provost Katherine Fleming on Tuesday.

Such institutions are among the first to lay out concrete strategies for resuming in-person instruction while addressing the unique challenges posed by the virus.

Most other schools have delayed making fall plans until mid-summer due to the conflict between health concerns and the immense pressure to return to normal in order to maintain enrollment and tuition revenue.

As higher education leaders consider the best approaches for their unique communities, they must evaluate how they will implement a variety of precautionary measures, such as cleaning, contract tracing, and social distancing, according to Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education (ACE), in an interview with The Times.

Furthermore, Hartle told the paper that colleges and universities will have to tailor plans to their unique regions and institutional needs. “What happens at Grinnell is not necessarily what will happen at Columbia,” he said.

Both Notre Dame and UofSC are home to high-profile college football teams. Fall games are currently scheduled but it remains up in the air whether intercollegiate sports are possible amid COVID-19, according to reporting by The Washington Post.