ASU plans to hold in-person classes for Fall 2020 semester

The University will follow recommendations from health officials and implement safety measures for students and staff, President Crow said

ASU is planning to resume in-person classes for the fall semester, University officials announced in a school-wide email on April 30.

But classes could look much different even if students return in August. At a University Senate meeting this week, University Provost Mark Searle suggested that classes could be capped at 30 students, and some health experts say that social distancing could last months.

"Given that circumstances related to COVID-19 continue to evolve, ASU will implement whatever safety measures and health protocols are necessary to keep students and employees safe," wrote University President Michael Crow in the email. 

In addition, he said the University will continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for distancing and sanitization and will update students throughout the summer if there are any changes. 

In a response to a question on Twitter, the University said it will "have options available for students who may not be able to return to campus or attend classes in-person" because of COVID-19. This could include international students who are unable to come back to the U.S. because of current travel restrictions. 

READ MORE: Smaller in-person classes, hybrid courses possible for ASU come Fall 2020

ASU previously announced classes for summer sessions A and C will be held online instead of in-person. The University has not yet announced whether summer B will be online or in-person.

UA also announced its plan for fall in-person classes Thursday. At a press conference, President Robert Robbins said UA was planning to use a “test, track, treat” plan to create the most flexible learning environment for the fall.

"We are tackling what is within our control to ensure our students have the opportunity for a full on-campus experience,” Robbins wrote in a statement.

UA summer classes will continue to be held in an online format, but a decision has yet to be made about courses taught during July. 

On April 30, UA will begin to roll out its plan to test antibodies for the new coronavirus among 3,000 health care workers and first responders and — with separate funding — 1,500 UA students and faculty still residing in Pima County. 

NAU President Rita Cheng said the university was planning for "normal operations in the fall, including offering full services at our mountain campus and in-person delivery of classes," in a statement sent to students on April 17. 

Cheng's statement also recognizes the changing environment due to COVID-19 and says they have and will continue to consider "a variety of alternate education delivery scenarios."

On April 29, Gov. Doug Ducey announced his stay-at-home order would extend to May 15, restricting travel to and from states in the Northeast, encouraging Arizonans to stay home when and if they can. The extension will allow for the state's gradual process to reopen, letting small businesses continue delivery and pick-up options. 

As of April 30, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 7,648 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 320 deaths across all 15 counties.

A number of other colleges and universities across the country announced that their in-person summer activities were canceled and, like Arizona's schools, were considering every possible option to have students on campus again in the fall.

An epidemiologist and visiting scientist at Harvard University's T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Eric Feigl-Ding, told CNN on April 15 he thought colleges all over the country should begin to plan for everything, given what research and data are already available. 

"Colleges should all definitely make plans for delaying start dates and for intermittent closings and reopenings, because epidemiology modeling suggests we may have to go into open and close waves until potentially even 2022," Feigl-Ding said. 

Arizona is among over 15 other states to remain shut down and restricted going into May. The New York Times reports Montana, Minnesota, Colorado, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Alaska are the states that have begun to partially open back up to the public.

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 11:41 a.m. to include information on possible University accommodations. This story was updated at 12:27 p.m. to include that UA also announced its plans to be in-person come fall. 


Reach the reporter at pjhanse1@asu.edu and follow @piperjhansen on Twitter. 

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