Delaware’s largest university announced Wednesday it will operate mostly online for the fall semester. City of Newark officials approve of the decision — but note it will affect local businesses.
The University of Delaware’s move to hold the majority of its classes entirely online because of the state of the country’s coronavirus outbreak means only a fraction of the students who usually live on campus can do so this fall.
Students who have already signed leases for off-campus apartments will likely live in town as well.
But Newark Mayor Jerry Clifton says local businesses are bracing for a very different semester.
“Potentially at least a third if not half of the students not being here— that’s a big hit,” he said. “That’s a big hit for any business community.”
University officials say around 3,000 students are authorized to live on campus because they are currently enrolled in a class that must take place in person. Some international students and those facing housing hardship can get approved for on-campus housing this semester on a case-by-case basis.
The University generally enrolls around 18,000 full-time undergraduates, roughly 8,000 of which live on campus. The University's roughly 4,000 graduate students do not live on campus.
City of Newark spokesperson Jayme Gravell says roughly 7,500 students live off campus in Newark in a "normal year."
Clifton sees the decision to go mostly online as the best solution to balance the needs of both the University and the community, where he says some residents are concerned about students bringing a new outbreak to Newark.
"What they’ve done is hit a balance between the needs of the students, needs of the community and needs of the University—and also the concerns of the City, the community and the University,” he said. “Certainly it’s maybe not good for our business community and so forth but I think first and foremost the health and safety of the students and the surrounding community has got to be paramount.”
UD spokesperson Andrea Boyle Tippett says the University expects students remaining in town, on-or-off campus, to follow CDC guidelines around face coverings and social distancing.
“We want to make sure that students know that it’s their responsibility to be good neighbors and good community members and that protecting the health of the community is on all of us, and they are part of that plan,” she said.
The University expects to lose up to $100 million this semester, including the cost of additional instructional design and financial aid and losses in housing, dining and study abroad.