A look at 5 schools expanding in-person classes

'We have recorded no instances of transmission in a classroom or laboratory setting,' University of Arizona president says
By: | October 6, 2020

While COVID is forcing some campus leaders to shift back to online learning, the University of Arizona and some other schools are planning to bring more students back to in-person classes in the coming weeks.

The University of Arizona—where the fall semester began in August with about 6,200 students attending only labs and fine arts courses in-person—plans to re-open more classrooms next week if COVID rates continue to decline, President Robert C. Robbins has announced.

“We have recorded no instances of transmission in a classroom or laboratory setting,” Robbins said. “The university’s measures in place to reduce transmission of coronavirus are working, and our partnerships with Pima County and the city of Tucson have had positive impact in the near-campus neighborhoods.”

Classes that were designated in-person or flex in-person at the beginning of the fall semester could begin with 30 or fewer students each next week.


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At the end of last week, the most recent campus COVID testing found 11 new positives out of 1,282 tests, for a positivity rate of 0.9%. That represented a substantial decline from the previous week’s 3.4% positivity rate.

As of Friday, 68 dorm students were in isolation housing, with 450 beds available. Another 58 dorm residents were isolating off-campus, Robbins said.

Low COVID rates have also allowed SUNY Oswego in upstate New York to begin resuming in-person classes this week, President Deborah F. Stanley announced.

“We must remain vigilant; we must each be accountable,” Stanley said in a message to campus. “We are returning to the classrooms but we must not let our guard down.”

The university will keep many other restrictions in place, including ‘grab and go’ meals and a ban on in-person gatherings of student organizations and athletic teams. Visitors are also prohibited in residence halls.

In-person COVID adjustments

In Virginia, James Madison University planned to resume in-person classes this week unless instructors have made alternate arrangements.

Everyone must wear masks at all times in classes that are limited to 50 students or fewer.

In Rhode Island, Brown University is allowing classes of 19 students or less to be held in person.


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The university is also permitting in limited in-person library use and students can meet with faculty and advisors as long as everyone is wearing masks.

The university is continuing to hold most activities outdoors. Students can dine and socialize in their pods—a stable group of five people—without masks.

Also in Rhode Island, Providence College is resuming in-person classes this week and may resume full in-person classes next week, if “testing data reveal acceptable results,” the university announced.


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.