Universities adjust for fall semester

Geisel Library at UCSD. (UC San Diego Publications/Copyright Regents of the University of California)

Universities adjust for fall semester

This year’s first-time college freshmen and transfer students will experience local campuses like never before: with mostly online instruction. For schools that have avoided this approach, expansive reopening plans promise mass testing and lower density student housing.

The shift has taken hold as the rest of society learns to live with the pandemic following statewide lockdowns in the spring. Many of this year’s high school seniors, including those at Scripps Ranch High School, graduated in socially distanced car parades.

San Diego State University, located just 20 minutes south of Scripps Ranch, will be following the lead of the other California State University system’s 22 campuses by offering mostly online instruction, with some exceptions for courses that require more hands-on work.

Schools within the San Diego Community College District, including San Diego Miramar College, will be following a very similar approach in order to keep most students off campus.

San Diego State University (SDSU) Director of Athletics John David Wicker said in May that the campus is planning to bring back athletes in the fall, starting with Aztecs Football. Although, much of the student life that surrounds fall sports, including tailgating and packed student sections, is unlikely to follow.

UC San Diego (UCSD) committed to the much more ambitious approach of bringing students back to campus in the fall, with a strong emphasis on mass testing and contract tracing. Due to the campus’s extensive healthcare infrastructure, UCSD is better positioned to take this kind of approach than its local counterparts.

“This effort will leverage the ingenuity and expertise of our clinicians, molecular biologists, epidemiologists, bioinformaticians and others to work toward a tailored map of where the virus is, and where it isn’t,” UCSD Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla said in a press release.

Besides academic instruction, student housing will be limited to single and double rooms – eliminating rooms of three. Students who test positive for the virus will be isolated in a campus facility, according to UCSD’s Return to Learn webpage.

University of San Diego, one of San Diego’s smaller four-year universities, with nearly 10,000 students, also plans to bring students back to campus in the fall for in-person learning. Testing will be made available on campus as positive cases will be subject to contract tracing, according to a campus announcement in May.

The University of San Diego (USD) requires most freshmen to live on-campus, a mandate that will remain in place as the campus switches to a lower-density model for student housing, according to an announcement from President James Harris.

The campus will also embrace an adjusted academic semester, starting courses earlier on Aug. 17 so students don’t have to return following Thanksgiving break – potentially transmitting the virus between cities.

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