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College Fall 2020 - Virtual or In-Person? What do you think?

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Things are so all over the place here.  Northeastern just said they were definitely doing in-person, Harvard Medical School already announced they'd be all online.  The state universities (where all my kids are going) so far have said nothing; just hope they figure it out before youngest has to sign a lease for the fall. Older kids will be in apartments either way; youngest thought she'd go back either way but as this drags on is thinking she'd prefer to stay home for the fall if things stay online.  Would save us a ton of money...

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My kids’ school (state school in WI) has decided to hold off on a decision until July so they can see how the situation evolves. I think it is wise of them to wait until then.

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1 hour ago, Selkie said:

My kids’ school (state school in WI) has decided to hold off on a decision until July so they can see how the situation evolves. I think it is wise of them to wait until then.

 

I agree that's the wisest thing to do, but it makes it hard when you are a long distance away and need to book flights, lodging, rental car, vacation time, petsitting, etc.  My daughter is an incoming freshman and I don't know if I need to get dorm stuff together or if she'll be home until January (or longer).  But I'd rather it be certain than to be told it will be on campus now and then they change their minds when it gets closer.  The uncertainty makes it all so difficult!  

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9 minutes ago, Kassia said:

 

I agree that's the wisest thing to do, but it makes it hard when you are a long distance away and need to book flights, lodging, rental car, vacation time, petsitting, etc.  My daughter is an incoming freshman and I don't know if I need to get dorm stuff together or if she'll be home until January (or longer).  But I'd rather it be certain than to be told it will be on campus now and then they change their minds when it gets closer.  The uncertainty makes it all so difficult!  

I totally agree! I wish there was a way to know what will happen.

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I appreciate the announcements that classes will be in person but I admit I just think to myself “well that is what they say now” and I don’t really feel like it settles anything at all. 
 

I do like Purdue’s plan mentioned above.

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4 hours ago, Kassia said:

 

I agree that's the wisest thing to do, but it makes it hard when you are a long distance away and need to book flights, lodging, rental car, vacation time, petsitting, etc.  My daughter is an incoming freshman and I don't know if I need to get dorm stuff together or if she'll be home until January (or longer).  But I'd rather it be certain than to be told it will be on campus now and then they change their minds when it gets closer.  The uncertainty makes it all so difficult!  

 

YES. Agreed.  We want to order her room stuff - but don't want to store it here for the next 6+ months if DD has to stay home. And yet, her school has laid out a pretty specific plan and it seems reasonable to me at this point, so it feels somewhat safe to do so?

But all the "what ifs" are killing the joy, that's for sure. DD2 knows 3 people her age who've had (test-positive) COVID... and it wasn't pretty for a single one of them. 😕

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7 hours ago, easypeasy said:

 

YES. Agreed.  We want to order her room stuff - but don't want to store it here for the next 6+ months if DD has to stay home. And yet, her school has laid out a pretty specific plan and it seems reasonable to me at this point, so it feels somewhat safe to do so?

But all the "what ifs" are killing the joy, that's for sure. DD2 knows 3 people her age who've had (test-positive) COVID... and it wasn't pretty for a single one of them. 😕

We didn't buy my dd's room stuff until the weekend we dropped her off at college.  What we didn't get we ordered on Amazon. However that being said we used Bed Bath and Beyond and they aren't doing as well now or are out of business in a lot of places! BBB had a great dorm package option - you went through all their suggestions and picked what you needed and they had it ready for pickup at the location and day you wanted.  

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My kid also attends a WI public university so we're on hold.  I think they are trying really hard to make it happen.  I do feel for these schools.  They are at the mercy of the response and testing capabilities of the surrounding communities or need to build the infrastructure for that very quickly.  It seems like if there were reliable instant result testing and the ability to trace and isolate students and faculty it would be a heck of a lot easier for a school to contain an outbreak.  My kid is at the flagship which has a large number of international students and students from across the country.  I'm not super optimistic.

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@Matryoshka

https://www.chronicle.com/article/Faculty-Cuts-Begin-With/248795

“The top brass’s message was clear: When talking about the instructors who won’t be reappointed, at least for now, department chairs at the University of Massachusetts at Boston should stick to the script.

“Never slip and call this a layoff,” reads a Monday talking-points memo from the provost’s office, obtained by The Chronicle. Similarly, “do not speak of this notice as a kind of ‘pink slip.’”

This week, letters were sent to an unknown number of instructors, telling them that they won’t be reappointed for the fall, with the caveat that things could change over the summer. “I am very sorry for the consternation I know this will cause you,” Emily A. McDermott, the interim provost, says in the form letter.

When the Covid-19 pandemic threatened to deplete projected budgets, college leaders, like those at UMass-Boston, looked to minimize expenses and make difficult choices about priorities. While decisions were still up in the air, faculty members, especially those off the tenure track, feared that their ranks would be thinned. Now, those cuts are starting to be made across academe. (The Chronicleis tracking them here.)

Thirty-one faculty members were laid off at Missouri Western State University, while 20 others will receive terminal one-year contracts, Inside Higher Ed reported. St. Edward’s University, in Texas, eliminated an unknown number of employee positions, including some faculty members on and off the tenure track, the Austin American-Statesmanreported. City University of New York colleges have begun announcing plans to remove hundreds of adjunct positions, according to the CUNY faculty and staff union; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stood in solidarity with the union, saying in a statement that “austerity is not the answer.”

And rumors have swirled at Ohio University that instructor positions will be eliminated, speculation that was confirmed in a Friday-evening message to the campus from the president.

At UMass-Boston, the university is preparing to appoint “somewhere between ‘zero’ and ‘drastically fewer than normal’ associate lecturers, clinical associate lecturers, and noncontinuing lecturers” who work on semester-by-semester contracts, the provost’s message says.

Faculty leaders on various campuses are scrutinizing those decisions. They say they appreciate the need to be frugal but don’t understand why contingent faculty members, who are often the lowest paid and do the bulk of the teaching, are on the chopping block.

Decisions Delayed

DeWayne Lehman, director of communications at UMass-Boston, said in an email that non-tenure-track faculty members who are on semester-to-semester contracts have been told that they “may not be needed” in the fall. The university hopes to reappoint some of them in the future, but “that is not a decision we can make until our financial outlook for FY 2021 becomes clearer,” Lehman said.

To Steve Striffler, that decision feels premature. Striffler, the incoming president of the Faculty Staff Union, said he and other professors understand that the university wants to save wherever it can. He understands there are unknowns, like fall enrollment and state funding, and that can produce some “nervousness,” he said. But that nervousness “translates into going after the folks that are the most vulnerable.”

Right now, it’s not clear how many instructors are affected. When asked by The Chronicle, Lehman did not provide an answer. But 487 non-tenure-track faculty members are in the bargaining unit, Jeffrey Melnick, an American-studies professor on the union’s executive committee, said in an email. About 240 of them aren’t on continuing appointments, he said, and therefore could have received the nonrenewal letters. The union is trying to tally a total.”

 

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Yesterday there was announcement that public universities in FL would be on campus. Still looking for specific details from my son’s college.

Also got an email yesterday from the local college my high schooler attends for de. They are intending to be on campus in the fall. In fact they are holding some summer camps later this summer and some summer grad classes on campus as a test run. 
 

The local cc set out a plan for fall that included an increase in the number of online classes. It also said there will be many hybrid where half the class will be in person and the other half online and then it would switch. So each student would get an in person class once per week while keeping the numbers on campus down.

I’ll believe it when it actually happens, I guess but at least they are trying.

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From the announcement in Texas yesterday, it looks like our classes will be in-person.  It said they can even open for summer school June 1st.

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Notre Dame announced recently that they will start the semester in-person on August 10 and end at Thanksgiving.

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https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/05/20/live-updates-latest-news-coronavirus-and-higher-education

Record-Breaking Summer Enrollment at ASU

May 20, 2:15 p.m. Summer enrollment at Arizona State University is at an all-time high, the university reported yesterday.

More than 56,000 students have signed up to take summer classes, a 16.5 percent increase from 2019. Of these, 1,300 are newly admitted fall 2020 students, a 74 percent increase from last summer.

ASU expanded its summer course offerings in anticipation of students wanting to study while confined to their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The institution is offering over 5,200 courses -- a mixture of native online courses and courses that will be offered remotely using videoconferencing tools.

“Our faculty have shown remarkable adaptability and an unyielding commitment to student success by making classes available through remote options and offering multiple start dates this summer,” said Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost, in a statement. “I am equally impressed by the students who have enrolled in summer classes -- they are choosing to approach our present reality as an opportunity to make progress on their academic goals.

-- Lindsay McKenzie”

“N.J. College Leaders Want Liability Protection for Fall

May 20, 10:18 a.m. Several leaders of colleges in New Jersey have asked the state for immunity from lawsuits as they consider reopening for in-person instruction in the fall, NJ.com reported. Those requests, made by higher education officials during a New Jersey Senate committee hearing yesterday on the impact of COVID-19 on colleges, echo requests made by some college and university leaders during a call last weekwith Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Presidents in the call with Pence said they needed assurances their institutions wouldn't be sued if students or employees got sick on campus, which is likely.

“They were mostly in listening mode, wanting to hear what the federal government could do to be helpful,” said University of Texas at El Paso president Heather Wilson, who was on the call. One way the government can help, said Wilson, a former Republican congresswoman from New Mexico and secretary of the Air Force, “is to have some kind of liability protection.”

The New Jersey higher education officials made similar comments during the hearing yesterday. The threat of costly lawsuits is an impediment to colleges reopening, said Eugene Lepore, executive director of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, according to NJ.com.

Gregory Dell'Omo, president of Rider University, made a similar point in a written comment to the lawmakers, according to the news outlet.

“We find ourselves seriously exposed by events that are out of our control,” Dell’Omo wrote. “The financial impact from these kinds of lawsuits will seriously jeopardize the financial solvency of many colleges and universities in New Jersey.”

-- Paul Fain”

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Conflicting messages from dd's school.  In class persons (with online or hybrid options).  But, she also received an email saying that they are canceling in-person commencement which was supposed to be just a couple of days before classes start.  If they can't figure out a way to make commencement work (by single dept, in different locations, different hrs, restrict attendance to graduates +1 or 2, etc) I don't see the semester on campus going well.  Dining halls and dorms are going to be far worse than commencement.

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8 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Conflicting messages from dd's school.  In class persons (with online or hybrid options).  But, she also received an email saying that they are canceling in-person commencement which was supposed to be just a couple of days before classes start.  If they can't figure out a way to make commencement work (by single dept, in different locations, different hrs, restrict attendance to graduates +1 or 2, etc) I don't see the semester on campus going well.  Dining halls and dorms are going to be far worse than commencement.

This is what I keep thinking.  Apart from the shared bathrooms in dorms, dining halls also seem like a recipe for transmission.  I keep hearing that for restaurants 'buffets are a thing of the past' - but that's pretty much what dining halls are.  Not to mention all the people sitting together in the same space breathing the same air for so long, every day, for multiple meals a day.

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19 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

This is what I keep thinking.  Apart from the shared bathrooms in dorms, dining halls also seem like a recipe for transmission.  I keep hearing that for restaurants 'buffets are a thing of the past' - but that's pretty much what dining halls are.  Not to mention all the people sitting together in the same space breathing the same air for so long, every day, for multiple meals a day.

 

I'm reading about take out dining halls being an option, but have no idea how that would work.

 

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7 minutes ago, Kassia said:

I'm reading about take out dining halls being an option, but have no idea how that would work.

Yeah, that seems ... difficult to implement. 

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1 hour ago, Matryoshka said:

This is what I keep thinking.  Apart from the shared bathrooms in dorms, dining halls also seem like a recipe for transmission.  I keep hearing that for restaurants 'buffets are a thing of the past' - but that's pretty much what dining halls are.  Not to mention all the people sitting together in the same space breathing the same air for so long, every day, for multiple meals a day.

 

54 minutes ago, Kassia said:

 

I'm reading about take out dining halls being an option, but have no idea how that would work.

When my husband was an exchange student in Canada, his meal plan enable him to buy meals at any of the dining halls on campus. So he could buy takeout/togo and eat in the study hall or in his dorm room or anywhere else on campus. 

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1 minute ago, Arcadia said:

 

When my husband was an exchange student in Canada, his meal plan enable him to buy meals at any of the dining halls on campus. So he could buy takeout/togo and eat in the study hall or in his dorm room or anywhere else on campus. 

Yeah, but how you still have to go inside, stand in line, most dining halls have multiple lines because of all the different choices... it's not like curbside takeout where you call ahead with your order and get a bag brought to your car.

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2 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

Yeah, but how you still have to go inside, stand in line, most dining halls have multiple lines because of all the different choices... it's not like curbside takeout where you call ahead with your order and get a bag brought to your car.

CalPoly SLO has food trucks on campus 😄  not perfect but workable.

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1 hour ago, Matryoshka said:

Yeah, but how you still have to go inside, stand in line, most dining halls have multiple lines because of all the different choices... it's not like curbside takeout where you call ahead with your order and get a bag brought to your car.

 

They might end up with "to-go" meals.  I think that's what they did for students who stayed on campus (international?) after classes were switched to online at the university my daughter will attend.

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If this was already posted upthread, consider it a reminder!

The Chronicle of Higher Education is keeping a running list of fall announcements. Some of the announcements contain concrete info and others are as useful as the McSweeneys piece.

https://www.chronicle.com/article/Here-s-a-List-of-Colleges-/248626

Edited by Penguin

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On 5/20/2020 at 6:59 PM, Matryoshka said:

Yeah, but how you still have to go inside, stand in line, most dining halls have multiple lines because of all the different choices... it's not like curbside takeout where you call ahead with your order and get a bag brought to your car.

I think many universities can address these issues.  Dining halls may not look like they have been in the past few years with students waiting in lines for made to order omelets or smoothies or stir fries.  But, many universities have already had some type of order/delivery to the dorm options for some food items.  Banquet hall facilities that probably will not be used because conferences are not being held could be used to spread students out beyond the typical dining halls.  Outdoor dining areas could be expanded.  Most dorms have common rooms where breakfasts and simple meals could be set up.  Kiosks where students can pick up salads and sandwiches to go could be expanded.   

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My boys got a survey from their school (state school in WI) asking which option they would prefer for fall semester. The options listed are:

Fall semester entirely online

Fall semester entirely in person, with classes starting early (in August) and finishing at Thanksgiving

Fall semester (mostly) in person, with classes starting right after Labor Day, as usual. Students will leave campus at Thanksgiving and finish the rest of the semester online.

They both voted for the entirely online option. While they would love to be back on campus, they don't think it is going to be safe to do so this fall.

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Just read this about  UAH:

To address the financial challenges, we have implemented a hiring freeze, a heightened review of spending, cancellations of faculty sabbaticals, and a temporary suspension of the 403(b) voluntary retirement employer match. The uncertainty of our future financial situation requires that we take additional steps to reduce expenses, including cutting some programs and reorganizing some units to create savings from improved efficiencies. All units across the University are sacrificing for the greater good.

After a comprehensive review of UAH's athletic offerings and the associated long-term budget implications, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue the men’s hockey, men’s tennis, and women’s tennis programs. The student-athletes associated with these programs have been outstanding representatives of the University in the classroom and on the field. We are making this decision now to allow our student-athletes in hockey, men’s and women’s tennis programs to have the opportunity to play at another institution if they choose to do so. Student-athletes who would like to join another institution's roster will be released without penalty and free to transfer immediately. For student-athletes associated with these three programs who wish to complete their education at UAH, their current scholarships will be honored for the duration of the students’ academic careers.

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I know a lot of people here are not sports fans but that is really sad about UAH hockey. It was just a unique and interesting thing about the school as hockey is so rare in the south. 
 

Of course cutting course offerings is sad too! I’m not saying sports are more important than academics by any stretch but UAH is my son’s second choice school and this disappoints him as a fan. 

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On 5/16/2020 at 1:15 AM, easypeasy said:

 

YES. Agreed.  We want to order her room stuff - but don't want to store it here for the next 6+ months if DD has to stay home. And yet, her school has laid out a pretty specific plan and it seems reasonable to me at this point, so it feels somewhat safe to do so?

But all the "what ifs" are killing the joy, that's for sure. DD2 knows 3 people her age who've had (test-positive) COVID... and it wasn't pretty for a single one of them. 😕

For dorm stuff, I would suggest either a minimalist list or only items you don't mind abandoning.  One of my kids had a couple hours slot to clear our his dorm room when he went back after spring break.  The other packed up everything he could bring home and left the rest in place.  At some point the university will have packers box the remainder up. 

I think it is highly likely that colleges that go back to in residence teaching will have community spread among students.  Especially if there is much contact between students and the wider local community.  Smaller, more remote campuses that are more self-contained might be able to pull it off.  Commuter campuses or schools in urban areas are more likely to struggle.

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My dc's uni announced their plans today. I'm a little confused on the winter part but it sounds like they will start at normal time (end of August) and go home at Thanksgiving. I think the rest of fall is online and then the beginning of spring will also be online. In person classes will resume in February and be done beginning of May. No breaks at all, including no spring break.

They also plan to have dorms all be single occupancy unless a specific roommate is requested. There are already space issues so I have no idea how they plan on doing this. 

The after Thanksgiving to February part is still a bit unclear to me though because it sounded like some campuses or professors might just decide to end at Thanksgiving and not start spring until February. 

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Lone Star College will start online and transition to in-person classes on Oct. 18 (if all goes well) according to the Physics, Engineering and Math Club. I can't find an official announcement so it might just be the current plan.

Fall classes:  Currently most in-person fall classes will start in an online format in August, then transition to an in-person format on October 18th.  Your schedule might list the class twice, once for the initial online portion, and again for the face-to-face format.  More information will follow as we get closer to August.  We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe, stay tuned!

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I have heard about University of Oklahoma:  after announcing they would be in-person, they made a cap of how many students could be in a class, and all the larger classes are online only.  Apparently it is a lot of classes.  My niece is trying to change her schedule because online is not a good fit for her, and she turned out to have 3 online classes and one in-person class.  

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Yeah, I think this is where my dc are lucking out as far as class size. Oldest is a double major in English and Psychology. His Psych classes may be online due to size but his English Lit and Creative Writing courses are all usually less than 20 students. Youngest is an art major and her two scheduled art courses are also less than 20 students. I suspect dd's gen ed classes to all be online - her science course already states it will be. 

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Honestly, with all the limitations and such my son feels life would be simpler to do online classes for one semester. To pay for an apartment and not be allowed to do all the social stuff and not know if you will have to move to online anyway just seems a pain. He wants to know if he needs to get an apartment. If he does get an apartment and they close again he is stuck with a lease.  Even if they do in person classes, it would be nice if they gave the option of online for those who are happy with it. 

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13 hours ago, Lecka said:

I have heard about University of Oklahoma:  after announcing they would be in-person, they made a cap of how many students could be in a class, and all the larger classes are online only.  Apparently it is a lot of classes.  My niece is trying to change her schedule because online is not a good fit for her, and she turned out to have 3 online classes and one in-person class.  

My university is still deciding. They have a three fold plan, dependent upon what the city allows and where the virus is at by August. One option, however, is to limit physical classrooms to 25% of capacity, which would be a nightmare. We don't have enough space to allow even 30 person classes to meet in person. 

The course I TA for has decided to put all lectures online (normally 120-150 enrolled) and the smaller breakouts will be offered in person (if we are even having in class options) or online. 

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My daughter's university is officially saying in-person for fall with many modifications, but a professor is posting on social media that classes will be online.  The uncertainty is so hard (but understandable).

 

 

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Several colleges & universities in my area including the one my DD#2 will hopefully do DE at this fall have adjusted their academic calendars to start a week early, skip all fall breaks, and end before Thanksgiving.

I saw one announcement that this will allow them to do a special online session between Thanksgiving & Christmas -- but not sure what that will entail.

No word from DD#1's college on whether they will change their calendar or be mostly online. Just rumors so far & the official "We plan to be in person" line.

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Dc's mid-sized university will have live classes.  A much larger university near here plans a hybrid approach. 

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https://www.tcu.edu/coronavirus/updates.php

TCU has announced classes for fall semester will start one week early (Aug 17).  There will be no Labor Day holiday or 2-day midsemester break.  On-campus activities will be completed by Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  (Monday and Tuesday of that week had been scheduled for holidays).  To meet accreditation contact hours two extra days will be made up either on Saturdays or via online.  

In addition, each classroom space is being analyzed to maintain at least six feet between seats and at least an 8 foot deep space that runs the width of the room for the professor.  Extra spaces, such as ballrooms, athletic spaces, and tented outdoor areas are being considered for extra spaces (no outside events will be held on campus throughout the fall).  

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Texas A&M plans to start classes a week early (Aug 19th) and end before Thanksgiving.  If I'm reading it right, final exams will be online.  Move in will be staggered.  I wonder about food service -- those cafeterias and kiosks are crowded.

They are also planning hybrid classes and may extend the class week through Saturdays.

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Carolina (UNC) will begin the Fall 2020 semester on August 10th.  The last day of Final Exams will be on November 24th.  The Spring semester is scheduled to begin on January 6, 2021, God willing the classes will be on campus and in classrooms,

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Even though it's been mostly outside, I have been thinking that literally tens of thousands of young people mixing and raising their voices (albeit for good cause) in close quarters lately is not going to bode well for in-person fall college classes.  Let's hope that the outside environment and wide (though far from universal) mask use mitigates this...

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13 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

Even though it's been mostly outside, I have been thinking that literally tens of thousands of young people mixing and raising their voices (albeit for good cause) in close quarters lately is not going to bode well for in-person fall college classes.  Let's hope that the outside environment and wide (though far from universal) mask use mitigates this...

I have been worried about this too.

 

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University of Southern California (that USC) is announcing on-campus for the Fall. Opening one week early.  details to be announced soon.

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https://www.stanforddaily.com/2020/06/03/stanford-plans-to-house-half-of-undergrads-on-campus-per-quarter-next-school-year/

Stanford’s plans.  50% of students on campus at a time utilizing the summer quarter.  Sounds like many classes will still be online.  I know they are doing their best, but this sounds incredibly complex to execute. I think the best news out of this article is it seems any admitted freshman can take a gap year as long as they notify Stanford by June 15th. 

I just want to say that I am so sorry for those of you going through this challenging season of uncertainty.  I fear there is much hopeful optimism that may not work in application/execution.  Honestly, my biggest concern is that students return to campus only to have a resurgence of cases in the fall that necessitates sending them home again. 😞

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