The University of Utah will extend online-only classes for an extra week this fall to reduce possible COVID-19 infections on campus.
Based on models developed by University of Utah Health infectious disease epidemiologist Lindsay Keegan, university leaders decided to shift to online classwork from September 28 to October 9.
“If we can create a pause in the middle of the semester, we should be able to reduce the number of infections,” said Steven Lacey, public health division chief. “We can use this interruption to better protect students, faculty, and staff.”
The university was already scheduled to shift to online coursework around the vice presidential debate, which will take place at Kingsbury Hall on Oct. 7. The change announced this week adds a second week of online classes starting September 28. Classes will then resume on campus October 12, with a mixture of in-person, hybrid, online and interactive video conferencing models. All courses will shift online after Thanksgiving break, which begins November 25.
“As a leading public research university, the U is drawing on the public health expertise of U of U Health epidemiology researchers in making this change,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president for academic affairs. “A two-week online education ‘circuit breaker’ will reduce the spread of the virus and help protect our campus community.”
University leaders have focused on preserving the on-campus college experience for first-year college students and ensuring that seniors are able to complete their graduation requirements. A majority of classes will be delivered online, with exceptions for experiential learning courses, including fine arts studio classes; practicums and clinical rotations; and laboratory instruction.
“We are still hewing to our core principles: preserving a safe and healthy, in-person first-year experience and ensuring the experiential education that so defines us,” Reed said.