The University of Delaware plans more in-person learning for its spring semester.
In a letter Wednesday, UD President Dennis Assanis announced spring classes will be taught face-to-face “whenever possible.”
Classes with 50 or more students will be online. And the school will try to offer an online version of in-person classes when it can.
Spring semester will start Feb. 15—a week later than originally scheduled. And there will not be a spring break to help minimize off-campus travel as a precautionary health measure.
“The vast majority of our students, faculty and staff have embraced the ‘Protect the Flock’ mindset to keep themselves and each other safe,” Assanis wrote. “These successes — and the culture of caring that is always a hallmark of the UD community — give us confidence to move forward with our plans to continue phasing in a more robust on-campus experience.”
The majority of UD classes are currently virtual. This semester, residence halls were limited to 20 percent capacity, or around 1,300 students. UD plans to increase that to 60 percent capacity, or 4,000 students, this spring. Priority for on-campus living will be given to first-year students.
Student residence halls are a key source of revenue for the University.
University officials said the main cause of the school’s multimillion dollar revenue loss this past spring was the shuttering of student residence halls and the subsequent refund of housing, dining and other fees to students. Other sources of lost revenue included cancelled events, athletic programs and facility rentals.
All sports postponed this fall, including football, are tentatively scheduled to start in late January, Assanis announced Wednesday.
The University also plans to ramp up its testing of asymptomatic students and staff from about 1,000 to 4,000 tests per week.
Gov. John Carney said Tuesday that the “surge” in cases at UD several weeks ago seems to have “passed us by”—and thanked the University and City of Newark for their cooperation.
The University has reported more than 400 cases of COVID-19 among students and staff since the start of the school year. An average of 74 cases were reported each week during September, while fewer than 30 cases have been reported each week this month.
University officials said last month they thought spread of the virus was driven by off-campus gatherings, rather than through on-campus interactions.
Assanis said in his letter Wednesday that very few cases have been traced to University residence halls, and no cases have been linked to transmission in classrooms or laboratories.
In late August, Newark police busted a 75-person backyard party which violated the City’s 20-person limit on outdoor gatherings.
Last month UD increased its disciplinary consequences for student violations of the City’s gathering rules. About 30 students had been charged with violation of the school’s code of conduct as of mid-September, according to a University spokesperson.
UD announced earlier this month it is reducing salaries by 5 percent for all non-union staff and making cuts to its workforce to deal with lost revenue during the pandemic.