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Public Universities Staying Online & Universities Reopening Fall 2020

The coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of universities and colleges across the country and cut the Spring 2020 semester short for thousands of students. The majority of students were forced to attend online classes and virtual lectures from their homes.

With Spring 2020 coming to an end and the COVID-19 pandemic still going on, there are still a lot of uncertainty and questions surrounding the reopening of university campuses and whether or not they will start offering in-person instruction again in the fall. Some public institutions as well as a few state university systems have tentatively announced their reopening plans for the Fall 2020 semester.

This is an overview of the public universities reopening for the Fall 2020 semester as well as the universities staying online in the fall. Remember, many of these reopening plans are not final and may change based on safety regulations put in place by state and local jurisdictions as well as the rate of COVID-19 cases in certain areas.

State University Systems Fall 2020 Reopening Plans

The Chronicle of Higher Education has been tracking the reopening plans for over 1,040 individual colleges throughout the country. As of June, they have found that around 63 percent of colleges are planning to reopen and offer in-person classes for the Fall 2020 semester.1 Multiple state university systems have announced their plans to start offering in-person instruction on their campuses.

Notable systems that have chosen this reopening plan include The University System of Georgia and the University of Arkansas System.2,3 Arizona’s two large public university systems, University of Arizona and Arizona State University, have also decided to have face-to-face classes in the fall.4

On the other hand, the California State University system plans to cancel nearly all face-to-face classes through the Fall 2020 semester.5 This means that 23 campuses across the state will remain closed for in-person instruction with a few “limited exceptions.” According to CSU’s Chancellor Timothy White, they believe this is the best course of action to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

“Our university, when open without restrictions and fully in person, as is the traditional norm of the past, is a place where over 500,000 people come together in close and vibrant proximity with each other on a daily basis. That approach, sadly, just isn’t in the cards now as I have described.” –Timothy White, Chancellor of California State University6

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  1. Chronicle Staff, The Chronicle of Higher Education – Here’s a List of Colleges’ Plans for Reopening in the Fall
  2. Eric Stirgus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Georgia University System schools work on fall reopening plan
  3. Emily Walkenhorst, Arkansas Democrat Gazette – ASU System plans in-person fall classes, on-campus housing
  4. Susan Adams, Forbes – Arizona’s Public Universities Will Open Their Campuses In The Fall
  5. Theresa Waldrop, Jon Passantino and Sarah Moon, CNN – Some of California's main universities not likely to return to campus this fall
  6. Dan Whitcomb & Sharon Bernstein, REUTERS – California moving university classes online as Fauci warns of reopening too soon