The University of Delaware announced its plans today to resume in-person instruction and return all 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students to its campus this fall.
In a detailed plan released today, the school announced steps to reduce class sizes and transition online for the remainder of the fall semester following the Thanksgiving break. Classes of more than 50 students will take classes virtually.
The school also has instituted a tuition freeze for the 2020-2021 academic school year.
The announcement comes as college campuses across the nation grapple with finding the best ways to provide safe instruction and a semblance of quality of life for new and returning students in the age of Coronavirus. Some schools are bringing students back several weeks early and closing their schools from Thanksgiving through Christmas.
For now, UD is sticking with its regular academic calendar, which still includes a five-week Winter Session starting in January. The school plans to revise the start date of the Thanksgiving break.
Under the new plan, one residential building will house Covid-positive students who must be quarantined. And all students will need to complete daily symptom check questionnaires.
Students who leave the country will be required to quarantine. Students who travel domestically will only need to self-quarantine if they had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
Guidance regarding on-campus pedestrian traffic between classes, athletic events, public events, campus tours, food and dining services, and accessibility to the public are also addressed in UD’s Return to Campus document.
The fall semester, which begins as scheduled on Tue., September 1, will follow a “blended education model” with a mix face-to-face and online learning, with in-person classes ending November 20th. The remainder of the semester will continue virtually.
Classes with 50+ students will be online only, with small face-to-face recitation sessions.
Students with health conditions that prevent them from attending class in person and international students who are unable to return to campus will be provided access to online course delivery.
UD is also preparing for a significant COVID-19 outbreak that may require one or more campuses to return to the online delivery of all courses.
Unclear is whether students will be assigned roommates. The school stated today that residence hall assignments are being made now, with a focus on reduced density and decreasing contagion opportunities. Move-in times will be staggered.
The school is in the process of identifying dorms or apartments on campus for students who need to be isolated or quarantined.
Tuition at the University of Delaware will be frozen for the upcoming year. Tuition for in-state residents will remain $12,730 and $34,160 for non-resident students. Some student fees will be increased to cover the cost of enhanced health services.
UD Athletics will continue to monitor the public health situation with plans to compete. Student-athletes have begun to return to campus to practice, and they are all being tested in accordance with approved health protocols.
“We will be making final decisions on athletics in coordination with the CAA Conference, as well as NCAA and CDC guidelines. Of course, all planning for a successful season will rely on regular monitoring and necessary flexibility and compliance with safety measures pertaining to the public health situation,” said Assanis. “We have not yet made final decisions about Blue Hen fan attendance, but we will be sure to communicate plans to our ticket holders and supporters as those decisions are made.”
Health and Safety
Face coverings will be required indoors. All symptomatic individuals will receive Coronavirus testing on campus, and asymptomatic individuals will have to complete daily symptom check questionnaires.
Campus spaces will be regularly deep cleaned with enhanced protocols and increased frequency following CDC guidelines.
Health protocol signage and thousands of new hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout all UD campuses.
Classrooms, laboratories, the library, residence/dining halls and common areas are being modified to allow for physical distancing.
Senior leadership team salaries
As previously reported on TSD, all members of the University senior leadership team have voluntarily taken salary cuts of 5-10%. The salary base for all UD staff for the Fiscal Year 2021 has also been frozen, with no annual merit increases. Assanis reportedly makes a salary of $878,000 and has accepted a ten percent paycut.