Colorado State University plans to bring students back to campus in the fall.
At a COVID-19 town hall on Friday, CSU President Joyce McConnell excitedly announced that students are invited to return to campus “for a rigorous, rewarding in-person academic experience.”
“We’re really, really excited to welcome everyone for fall 2021,” McConnell said, joking that she wants to throw “the biggest party ever” on the Oval to celebrate the return to campus.
As excited as McConnell was to make the announcement, it did come with a caveat.
“We remain open to the idea that the pandemic sometimes presents us with challenges and changes and we have to be adaptive,” McConnell said.
But if all goes according to plan, she said new students can expect many small seminars and community-building activities in residence halls, and returning students can expect in-person learning experiences in addition to continued offerings of hybrid and remote classes.
“We’ve learned from the pandemic that people like some flexibility and choice in how they pursue their education,” McConnell said.
Provost and Executive Vice President Mary Pedersen said the university is working on options for those who are high-risk or have high-risk family members and do not want to return to in-person learning.
Remote work is also “on the table” for employees of the university, McConnell said.
Classrooms will be arranged to meet distancing guidelines, public health protocols will continue to be enforced, and hygiene supplies will continue to be available across campus, according to the university.
McConnell said that during the fall 2020 semester, nearly two-thirds of classes had some in-person element. This semester is on track to see similar numbers, and McConnell said the university is planning to offer an even higher percentage of classes with in-person learning in the fall.
Pedersen said planning and scheduling for the fall is still in progress, but more information will be made available as it’s determined.
The announcement came as CSU is preparing to enter Phase III of its COVID-19 response. Starting Monday, classes that are currently being taught in a hybrid model will move to in-person learning.
“Because we have managed to scale up our screening and testing and all of the capacity to keep the campus safe and healthy, we are now moving into Phase III,” Pedersen said.
The new phase does not mean remote faculty are expected to return to campus, and events remain canceled for the remainder of the semester. CSU will shift all instruction back to remote learning following a delayed spring break April 12-16.
CSU officials said the university’s COVID-19 positivity rate has hovered around 0.5% since the start of the spring semester; for comparison, it was between 3% and 4% in the fall.
“CSU is committed to keeping the university community healthy and well,” McConnell said. “… I hope that we’re able to move forward smoothly throughout the semester and with great plans for the fall.”
McConnell’s full statement on returning to campus can be found on CSU’s website.
Molly Bohannon covers education for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @molboha or contact her at email@example.com. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.