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Here’s What NOLA Colleges Are Planning For The Fall And How Things Might Change

Albert Herring
Tulane Public Relations

Most colleges and universities have released tentative plans for in-person learning this fall. But there’s a catch: Many require Louisiana to be in Phase 3 and Gov. John Bel Edwards just extended Phase 2 for an additional 28 days.

After several weeks of downward trends, Louisiana is having a bad week. The number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations rose sharply, leading Edwards to extend current restrictions until at least July 24.

While this may still give colleges and universities enough time to start the fall semester on schedule, some have warned they may need to push things back.

All schools have made clear that students and staff must wear facial coverings while in public spaces, observe social distancing guidelines, wash their hands frequently and stay home if they are ill or have recently been exposed to someone who may have the virus.

Dillard University

This section was updated on July 15.

Dillard University released its plan for students and staff to return to campus on July 10, several weeks after other New Orleans colleges and universities released their own plans.

This fall, the university will be using a hybrid model in which classes convene twice a week, once online and once in person. All classes are assigned to either Track A or Track B and different tracks will meet in-person on different days to better accommodate social distancing on campus.

“The hybrid method will ensure students have the contact with faculty members they desire and that all classes can be scheduled in spaces that can accommodate social distancing,” the plan reads.

First-year and transfer students will start arriving on campus Aug. 11 and classes will begin Aug. 18. There will be no fall break and the semester ends on Nov. 24. Students will complete their final exams off campus.

Dillard is unique among higher education institutions in its approach, which is similar to what NOLA Public Schools plans to do with high school students.

University President Walter Kimbrough explained the delay in an update sent to the Dillard community on June 1.

“The easiest thing for us to do would be to simply stay online, but the educational benefits of being in community together are undeniable, and as several students who have reached out to me have expressed, that even with the risks of a pandemic, and the ever-present threat of systemic racism, a Dillard University experience in person, even modified, is needed,” Kimbrough said in the update.

While on-campus, students and faculty are required to wear face masks during classes, in lab spaces, during academic meetings and when visiting academic offices.

Mandatory temperature checks will be conducted at Dillard’s main gate, outside of dorms and campus events as well as other locations. If an individual has a temperature higher than 100.4 they will not be admitted.

Dillard plans to test faculty and staff for COVID-19 before the start of the semester and is requiring students to get tested on their own prior to summer move-in. The university is also developing its own COVID-19 app and website for contact tracing and reporting. The Student Health Center will provide testing for students as needed during the semester.

Dillard did not increase tuition for the 2020-21 school year. If the University transitions to 100 percent online learning at any point in the year, there will be no tuition refund.

Kimbrough has written about the challenges historically Black colleges and universities like Dillard will face in the fall due to the disproportionate impact the virus has had on African Americans. Last year, 68 percent of Dillard students identified as African American and 98 percent received financial aid.

He’s urged students to prepare for the coming semester by getting a physical and checking to see if they have any underlying conditions, like diabetes, that might make them more vulnerable to the virus.

Delgado Community College, Louisiana Community and Technical College System

Fall registration is currently open and classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 17. The college will offer both in-person and online courses, and all in-person courses will have an online component should they need to switch to remote learning.

Students, faculty, staff and guests must have their temperature checked before entering any campus building.

Delgado began welcoming a limited number of students back on May 25, primarily those who must complete in-person coursework from last spring.

Louisiana State University, Louisiana State University System

Despite recent setbacks, including a cluster of positive COVID-19 cases among LSU football players, the university is planning to hold classes on campus starting Aug. 24, according to its academic calendar.

“We still remain hopeful that we can begin our Fall semester on schedule, but frankly for that to happen every one of us will need to take precautions seriously and ensure that those around us do as well,” the statement said.

Classes will be held on campus through Thanksgiving, at which point students are expected to return home and complete the remainder of the semester online. This prevents students who may have contracted the virus while home for the holiday from spreading it to their peers.

As of now, LSU has a scheduled fall break from Oct. 8 to Oct. 11. Several New Orleans colleges and universities have canceled all mid-semester vacations to discourage students from traveling and bringing back the virus.

LSU is currently in Phase 2 of its own reopening plan and 50 percent of employees are back on campus. It will wait to enter its next phase of reopening until the state does the same, according to a statement from university administrators.

Between 10 and 16 percent of the LSU System campus population statewide will be randomly tested for COVID-19 this fall, according to LSU Interim President Tom Galligan. Those selected will not be required to participate.

“The goal of this plan is to determine the incidence of the virus on LSU’s campuses and to locate and mitigate any possible clusters of the virus,” Galligan said.

The school is also planning to launch a mobile app to allow students and faculty to check their symptoms and participate in contract tracing functions. Free antibody tests are also available to all employees who return to campus.

LSU plans to release additional plans for the fall in the coming weeks. You can find more details regarding the coronavirus’s impact on academics and campus life here.

Loyola University New Orleans

Loyola will begin in-person classes on Aug. 24 and will transition to online classes following the Thanksgiving break in order to prevent possible community spread of the virus.

The majority of Loyola courses will be held at least partially in person, according to Vice President of Academic Affairs Maria Calzada. The university is also employing HyFlex learning, which allows students to participate in majority face-to-face classes virtually. To facilitate social distancing, some courses will be taught entirely online.

Before attending their first classes, all students are required to submit a COVID Positive Plan to student affairs outlining what they plan to do if they contract the virus.

Residence halls will be open, but their density will be reduced. Some areas will be reserved as quarantine spaces and all students living in the dorms will need to complete daily temperature checks and symptom self-assessments.

While the university is encouraging everyone to return to campus, students are allowed to complete the fall semester fully online.

Southern University at New Orleans, Southern University System

First-year students will arrive on campus Aug. 6 and all students will start classes on Aug. 12.

The semester will be condensed and the last day of in-person instruction will be Nov. 25. Final exams will be held remotely after the Thanksgiving break.

All faculty, staff and students must be tested for the coronavirus and provide their results to the university nurse before returning to campus, according to SUNO’s return to campus guide.

Students living in campus housing may be subject to additional testing throughout the semester.

To maintain social distancing, faculty are expected to stagger in-person class attendance. Each student will be assigned to an attendance group and will be given a schedule telling them when to attend class in-person and when to tune in online.

Tulane University

Tulane will bring students back to campus for the fall semester, with classes starting Aug. 19. Students will not return to campus following the Thanksgiving break and final exams will be taken online.

According to University recommendations, Tulane’s goal is to test people as they return to campus and provide regular testing throughout the school year for those who believe they may have contracted the virus. Tests will be administered at no cost to the student.

Tulane has also created their own on-campus infirmary where students who test positive can isolate and recover. Capacity will be limited to about 50 people.

Residence halls will have reduced capacity and some students will be housed off-campus in single-occupancy rooms. Classroom density will also be limited to 50 percent and all classes will offer remote learning options. Some high-enrollment courses will be offered exclusively online.

You can find all of Tulane’s fall reopening recommendations here.

University of Holy Cross

Holy Cross will begin the fall semester in-person on Aug. 24 and will transition to online learning after the Thanksgiving break.

The majority of classes will be conducted remotely or through online and in-person instruction. To maintain social distancing, face-to-face classes may divide students into separate rooms.

The university is encouraging teachers and students with health concerns to work remotely. On-campus housing will still be available, but density will be reduced.

University of New Orleans, University of Louisiana System

UNO plans to hold classes “on a face-to-face basis” starting Aug. 19. On Nov. 19, all classes will move online for the remainder of the semester.

Classrooms will be reconfigured to spread out seating and reduce capacity. All courses are required to have online contingency plans in case the university decides to transition to remote learning.

UNO is currently in Phase B of its Return-to-Campus plan which allows non-essential employees to begin working on campus on an “as-needed basis.” All employees are expected to complete a coronavirus self-assessment tool before visiting campus.

Rooms and other indoor spaces are currently limited to 25 percent capacity or 50 people, whichever is less.

Xavier University of Louisiana

Xavierites will begin returning to campus on Aug. 13 and classes will begin Aug. 17.

Students are expected to return home for Thanksgiving and complete the remainder of the semester remotely. If students choose to remain on campus for the holiday, they can remain in the residence hall until the end of the semester.

Class schedules and locations will be “reimagined” to satisfy social distancing guidelines and additional residence “venues” will be added in order to reduce the occupancy of preexisting spaces, Xavier University of Louisiana President Reynold Verret said in a letter to community members.

According to Verret, students, faculty and staff will be required to adhere to “community commitments for health and safety,” which include daily health monitoring and check-ins.

Employees have been returning to campus in a phased approach and come the fall will have staggered work schedules and reconfigured workstations.

Students can expect smaller in-person classes and a large number of online-only courses. If students choose, they can complete all of their classes remotely.

Aubri Juhasz covers K-12 education, focusing on charter schools, education funding, and other statewide issues. She also helps edit the station’s news coverage.

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