BOISE, Idaho — This article was originally published by Ximena Bustillo of the Idaho Statesman.
Boise State University unveiled its reintegration plan to allow students to return to campus for the fall semester through the use of hybrid courses, required masks and limited events.
While the fall semester will welcome students back to dorms and classrooms, changes to the classrooms and day-to-day operations will be in effect.
The state’s largest public institution will offer a blend of face-to-face, remote and hybrid course options so long as there are no federal, state or local regulatory or public health prohibitions — and will pivot to full online instruction after Thanksgiving break.
The university will still begin fall semester Aug. 24 but faculty will transition most classes to remote delivery for the final three weeks of the semester. Tuition rates are also not expected to change.
“At this point in time, we are standing by our fall and spring and next year’s tuition for students,” said Leslie Webb, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management during an online new students forum. “We need to be able to both balance that student experience that we’re trying so hard to offer and recognize that we have to look at a sustainable plan for Boise State’s future.”
In order to achieve appropriate physical distancing, small classes will be moved to larger classrooms, and large classes will either be reduced in size or relocated to large rooms in the Student Union Building (SUB) or other campus facilities.
According to an email sent by university officials, the university does not have the capacity to reduce the size or relocate all face-to-face classes. Therefore, some classes will be delivered online and some will be a hybrid model, which combines the two. Students will be able to see the medium of an offered course in their registration by July 15.
With 25% of course credits already offered online, officials believe the shift will be smooth with proper planning.
“This spring’s worldwide move to remote instruction was unanticipated and presented hurdles for faculty who quickly had to adapt classes designed for traditional delivery,” the email said. “This summer we are investing in remote learning infrastructure and faculty development for hundreds of professors across campus.”
Employees can expect to begin to return July 7, and additional plans for the return of services and employees will be announced by June 5.
While students are welcomed back into the dorms, the university says it is “reserving adequate space to self-quarantine or isolate exposed or infected residential students.”
Campus residents may be asked to undergo COVID-19 testing immediately before leaving home, or upon arrival in Boise. According to the email, the university is still exploring campus-based testing options and will provide additional information as it becomes available.
“We will take whatever steps we need to to ensure that we don’t have large gathering areas, that students aren’t congregating in spaces where they might not be able to appropriately social distance,“ said Alicia Estey, Vice President for Compliance, Legal and Audit during the forum.
Additionally, students should expect to wear facial coverings on campus (except in their rooms), and will be encouraged to wear facial coverings and follow state and local public health guidance when off campus.
Similarly, while dining and food service will re-open, student should expect most options to be carry-out service only and indoor and outdoor seating will be reduced.
Further changes include the cancellation of all university sponsored travel through the end of the calendar year, the cancellation of large events such as concerts and Splatter Party, COVID-19 testing and practice modifications for athletes and a staged approach to resuming research.
“We know students want a traditional experience,” Webb said. “We’re going to do everything in our power to offer that with safety and health at the forefront.”
Further details will be announced on the logistics of events and the cancellations.
UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO RESUMES CLASSES AUG. 24
The University of Idaho also announced it plans Friday to resume in-person classes on its campus Aug. 24.
Idaho President Scott Green said in an email to students most classes will resume face-to-face, but the Vandals could make some changes to allow for social distancing and may reduce the size of classes.
He wrote the fall class schedule should be ready by mid-June.
Idaho also plans to reopen its dorms and resume dining services. It said it would reduce density in housing and “provide food in a safe, responsible way.” It did not offer any details.
Green said a key ingredient to reopening is face masks and other personal protective gear “in certain situations.”
“Because the landscape continues to change rapidly, we all need to be patient and flexible,” Green wrote. “If we learned anything over the past three months, it is that flexibility is a key to success.”
Statesman reporter Michael Lycklama contributed to this story.