Provost: KU plans to return to in-person classes, services “as much as possible” in fall

photo by: Conner Mitchell

Students walk along Jayhawk Boulevard, donning masks, on the University of Kansas campus on Aug. 24, 2020.

The University of Kansas is planning to return “as much as possible” to in-person classes and services in the fall semester, a top administrator says, although the plan might change depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer made the announcement in a campus message on Friday. In the message, she said all instructors who had taught courses in person prior to the COVID-19 pandemic should plan on holding them in person again in the fall. She said the campus was expected to be operating at or near its pre-pandemic capacity for in-person classes, and that it would schedule classes earlier and later than normal to reduce the number of people on campus at one time.

KU has been operating under a mix of in-person, hybrid and remote classes in the 2020-21 academic year.

Bichelmeyer also said the campus would have a more normal academic calendar this fall, with a fall break, a Thanksgiving break and an in-person finals week. This past fall, there was no fall break, classes concluded around Thanksgiving, and the time after Thanksgiving was dedicated to a “study week” and a remote finals week.

Factors such as vaccine distribution and efficacy, COVID-19 variants and surges in infection rates might affect KU’s plan, Bichelmeyer said, “and we’ll continue to watch conditions and keep you informed should our teams advise caution.”

Bichelmeyer said the university’s Pandemic Medical Advisory Team was developing recommendations for infection control for the fall semester. She also said there would be accommodations for students and faculty who needed to work remotely for health or family reasons. Faculty members’ requests to teach remotely in the fall must be approved by deans, and students can work with their advisers or departments to seek course adaptations, Bichelmeyer said.

“KU staff members are working continuously and closely with health and safety officials and partners in the region and the state to facilitate vaccine distribution, especially for members of the KU community,” the message said.

Bichelmeyer said more information about the fall semester would be shared at the end of March.

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