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Fall 2020 Semester at the U

Here are the highlights for the initial plan for this fall.

Dear U students,

We have announced our initial plans for the Fall 2020 Semester, and we want to share highlights of that information with you.

We want to express our hope that you are safe and healthy during this unprecedented moment in history, which has involved both a pandemic and protests in many cities across our country as we grapple with systemic racism and oppression. Your well-being is very much in our thoughts as our nation faces these very challenging issues.

As a university, we are committed to creating a compassionate, equitable and just society for all.

That is a core principle of the University of Utah. You can read a statement from our leadership team about this here.

We also place a high value on doing our part to protect the safety and well-being of our entire community—students, staff, faculty, patients and visitors—as we plan for fall amid a pandemic. We are relying on guidance from health experts and state and federal authorities in our planning, which also will closely align with what our institutional peers in Utah and other states are doing.

That said, this is a very fluid situation and we recognize that new developments—from surges in coronavirus cases to confirmation of a vaccine—may require us to adjust our plan and make new decisions in the weeks and months ahead.

To our continuing students: We offer our deepest appreciation for the extraordinary resilience you’ve shown over the past months in adapting to online courses and a shuttered campus. We look forward to seeing you back on our campus soon!

To our new students: We know how important it is for you to experience campus life and we are working to make that possible to the greatest extent we can. We can’t wait to welcome you to the U in person!

Here are highlights of our Return to Campus plan.


  • A hybrid approach to classes will include in-person, online, and a combination of in-person/online instruction.
  • Online resources and digital technology will be maximized for every course.
  • General education courses are being given priority in our scheduling of large classrooms to preserve an in-person college experience for first-year students while maintaining safe physical distancing.
  • We will have a vibrant set of fully online courses to serve those whose health may limit their ability to attend in-person instruction.
  • Updated fall course schedules will be available by July.

Academic calendar for fall

  • Fall semester will begin Aug. 24. 
  • Classes will continue during fall break (Oct. 4-11) and will be held either in-person or online. The decision will depend on the ultimate status of the U.S. Vice Presidential Debate now set to take place on our campus as this event will require some campus spaces to be closed.
  • In-person classroom instruction will finish by Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, and will then shift to online from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. This is aimed at mitigating the likelihood of travel-related spread of COVID-19, along with the onset of the regular flu season.
  • Final exams will be online the week of Dec. 7-11.

For students living on campus

  • Students will be housed in the room type they reserved, with the exception of triples, and with the roommates originally selected in their housing application.
  • Move-in will occur on Aug. 18, Aug. 19 and Aug. 20. More information will be shared in mid-June. More housing information is available at the website
  • An option to extend residential housing will be available to all students who wish to remain on campus when instruction shifts to online and through the final exam period.
  • Housing & Residential Education has extended the contract cancellation deadline without penalty to June 15 to allow students to evaluate their individual health and safety needs.

Health information

  • All students, staff and faculty will be required to complete a brief online public health and safety course prior to returning to campus.
  • We are asking all members of the U campus community to monitor their own health on a daily basis and take precautions as needed.
  • You may be required to participate in coronavirus testing. We are currently developing a testing and monitoring plan, informed by best available public health guidance, and will share details when finalized.
  • Everyone on campus will be expected to wear a face covering in common areas in buildings when physical distancing cannot be maintained, including in classrooms and instructional laboratories.
  • We anticipate that we will have hand sanitizer and wipes available in all classrooms and laboratories.
  • Physical distancing protocols will be in place that will limit capacity in classrooms and laboratories.

More details are available at the website, which will be updated frequently throughout the summer. Our coronavirus website also will continue to provide updated information.

We recognize the significant uncertainty and anxiety that has accompanied this pandemic. We are in this together. Our success in meeting the challenges before us require a shared commitment to abide by our guidelines, to be agile and flexible as needed, and to treat each other with patience and kindness as we work to fulfill our mission as the state’s flagship university.

We hope you have a great summer and go Utah!

Ruth Watkins

Dan Reed
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Mike Good
Senior Vice President for Health Sciences

Lori McDonald
Vice President for Student Affairs