UD is developing contingency plan for the fall

University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis. Photo Kathy F. Atkinson and Evan Krape, UDaily.

The University of Delaware is putting plans in place to reopen campus, while a new task force will assess how best to bring students back to Newark for the fall semester.

In a letter to families this morning, President Dennis Assanis also said the school would be developing separate “contingency plans,” for the fall term, which “may need to be considered, depending on the trajectory of COVID-19.”

The newly created Campus Reopening and Fall Planning Task Force will begin its work June 1, when the school begins a phased reopening for administrative and research personnel.


Yesterday Governor Carney announced a two-week extension to the stay-at-home order of his State of Emergency. Businesses can move into Phase 1 of their reopening plans starting June 1.

Related: Carney sets June 1 as target date for reopening

The task force will develop a plan for resuming operations at UD through the summer and into the fall semester with safety and testing protocols following CDC guidelines. Assanis said the issuance and adoption of personal protective equipment will be a key element of the phased reopening.

Classes have already moved online for the summer, but the task force will be working on plans to “welcome students to campus in the fall according to the ‘new normal.'”

The task force has targeted subcommittees that will consider academic and calendar programming, research and graduate education, student life and athletics, facilities, as well as budget and planning.


Assanis did not elaborate on the make-up of the task force, whether students are on any of the sub-committees or when the task force will announce its recommendations.

Assanis’ letter did not specifically address plans for COVID-testing of students in the fall — that could come out of the task force’s recommendations. There are 27,000 undergraduate students at the University of Delaware.

The school is hosting a General Faculty Meeting and Town Hall this Monday at 3 pm over Zoom, and families, students and anyone interested is invited to attend. To view the meeting, click here.


Here is the entirety of President Assanis’ letter:

Earlier today, Delaware Governor John Carney announced June 1, 2020, as the target date for Phase I of the state’s economic reopening, based on the advice and guidance of experts at the Delaware Division of Public Health. Under this phase, schools remain closed and the state continues to require strict social distancing, restrict non-essential travel and encourage remote work. The governor also has extended Delaware’s State of Emergency declaration, including the stay-at-home order and its modifications, through May 31.

More information about the state’s plan is available here.

Accordingly, UD is extending its remote work plan until May 31 to align with the state’s guidance. This means that the University will continue to operate as it has since March 15, with only essential personnel and those conducting COVID-19 research reporting to campus for work. UD has already moved summer classes online and deferred or virtualized summer events and programs on campus.

We are currently targeting June 1 to begin re-activating campus operations on a phased-in basis, starting with our research facilities. Our rate of reopening facilities will be contingent on sufficient testing, tracing and personal protective equipment to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff. This phased approach is essential to monitor the effectiveness of social-distancing, face-covering and hygiene protocols and will be adjusted, as needed so that we can expand the population of the campus in alignment with the state’s reopening plans.

I have created a Campus Reopening and Fall Planning Task Force to begin charting the safest and most efficient pathway for resuming operations at UD through the summer and leading into the fall semester. The Task Force will recommend guidelines, procedures and protocols for a phased reopening of the campus, which will occur between June 1 and the start of the fall semester. It will also undertake the planning efforts needed in order to welcome our students back to campus in the fall, according to the “new normal,” as well as develop contingency plans that may need to be considered, depending on the trajectory of COVID-19, with guidance provided by our state government and public health authorities.


We are now in the process of assembling a number of campus-wide committees that will consider academic and calendar aspects, research and graduate education, student life and athletics, facilities, budget and planning, and public affairs. The Task Force and its various committees will work in conjunction with UD’s Health Advisory Group that reports directly to me to ensure that each step we take prioritizes the health and safety of our entire community.

I understand this pandemic and its far-reaching effects have raised many questions and concerns. I invite the University community to join me at 3 p.m. Monday for the General Faculty Meeting and Town Hall. To join the Zoom session and be able to submit questions during the meeting, members of the UD community are asked to register in advance here. Space is limited, so the meeting will also be available on UDLive.

I appreciate everyone’s patience and flexibility as all of our students, faculty and staff have adapted as a community to this evolving situation. Again, thank you for all of your work — wherever you may be — to ensure that the University of Delaware remains a safe, vibrant and world-class institution.


Dennis Assanis


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