Addressing the fall protocols, several Connecticut schools including UConn, Quinnipiac and the state university system participated in a virtual forum on Tuesday. With classes starting next month, officials from state universities and colleges have said they will be ready.
“We are confident that we will be able to open safely, given that we are currently with the pandemic,” said Mark Ojakian, president of Connecticut State College and University.
The guidelines have been put in place by the state but those who run higher education schools have said that one size is not good for everyone.
“There is a model to help institutions develop their plans but understand that individual institutions are different and that their plans will reflect these differences,” said Ojakian.
During the forum, which lasted several hours, schools made preliminary plans for the autumn. They also answered questions from several state representatives. Topics for discussion included academic plans, budgetary needs, safety protocols and an academic approach.
Schools are planning different modalities including some in-person lessons, online lessons and a hybrid of both. Towards autumn, school officials said they faced the academic vacuum created by online learning and the vow to maintain academic standards.
“Each modality has a high degree of rigor and is aligned as much as possible with the objectives of that course,” said Carl Lejuez, head of UConn.
There was also the discussion on mandatory masks.
“Masks must be worn by students and employees,” said Hans Rhynhartof UConn Public Safety. “UConn has taken over approximately 70,000 fabric masks, which will be delivered to students and employees.”
UConn officials said that the size of the person classes will be reduced to 30% and the population on campus reduced to 70%. Traditional dormitory capacity will be halved without alternative housing.
School-to-school housing plans may vary, however, UConn said it will prioritize first-year students and those who live farther away when deciding who gets housing and who doesn’t.
“We want to satisfy those who have the greatest need. Where they depend on us, ”said Elly Daugherty, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of UConn students.
There is also the possibility that a student will become infected. Schools say they are preparing for that scenario by putting 10% of residential homes aside for the use of insulation. Schools prefer an infected student to return home but plans are in place if this is not possible.
“If they can’t, they will be removed from the residential community and placed in a specific campus unit that we are holding for medical isolation,” said Daugherty.
The schools said they are still defining test guidelines and contact tracing. Both must be part of the reopening strategy. Schools are expected to present their full plans for reopening by early August.