University of Delaware reverses course, moves to virtual classes for fall

The University of Delaware has decided to hold almost all classes remotely this fall, and limit dorms primarily to students requiring face-to-face instruction. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

The University of Delaware has decided to hold almost all classes remotely this fall, and limit dorms primarily to students requiring face-to-face instruction. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

The University of Delaware has reversed course and decided to offer most courses online in the fall semester, officials announced Wednesday.

“This latest development certainly does not reflect how we would like to begin a new academic year, with all Blue Hens back on campus,” President Dennis Assanis said in a news release.

Assanis said in late June that classes at the state’s flagship university, based in Newark, would begin Sept. 1 with a mix of in-person and online classes.

Classes will still start Sept. 1 but now only “select” courses requiring classroom attendance will meet on campus.

Assanis said exceptions could include “strictly limited areas of study that require face-to-face instruction for academic progress.”

He mentioned nursing practice, engineering labs, animal handling courses, phlebotomy practicum experiences and one-to-one music instruction, and “select courses for members of our international student community and others with very specific needs. On-campus research activities remain limited to those efforts that require access to our facilities, fields and partner sites.”

Students can opt to take all their courses online, UD’s Andrea Boyle said. Those that require in-person instruction can be deferred until another semester.

All courses and final exams will be taken online following Thanksgiving break.

UD will test students, faculty and staff who return to campus upon arrival and afterward as appropriate, officials said. Students must also wear face coverings and physically distance while on campus.

Dorms will be limited primarily to students enrolled in face-to-face instruction, and will be single-occupancy only, with no guests.

Students who meet certain criteria, including international students, those in field placements or clinical rotations, or ones with a hardship will also be considered dorm candidates.

“I understand that not being together right now feels disruptive to that balance, displacing the connected experience we all share on campus,’’ Assanis wrote. “But, be assured, we will get there.”

UD’s decision comes as Gov. John Carney mulls whether he wants Delaware’s K-12 public schools to open with in-person classes, a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning, or online classes only.

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