BOISE — Broncos will be headed back to campus in the fall, but that doesn’t mean college life will look the same.
Boise State University announced Friday that it will be offering classes in a combination of in-person and online courses as the nation moves toward reopening, but with an eye on slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“Because this is a very dynamic situation, these plans are based on the most up-to-date information we have at this time and may change depending on many factors that are largely out of our control,” the press release said.
In order to teach in person with physical distancing, small classes will be moved to larger classrooms and large lectures will be reduced in size or moved to even larger rooms in the Student Union Building or other campus facilities. If classes cannot be accommodated this way, they will be taught online or will have the option for students to attend remotely or in person depending on their needs.
Students will also leave campus after Thanksgiving and complete the rest of their course work remotely in order to stop a potential spike caused by students traveling between campus and their hometowns multiple times.
All professors and courses will have a contingency plan in case a transition back to all remote learning is required.
Residential students will be able to return to campus, which will include self-isolation space for students who are either sick or have been exposed to the virus. Campus residents may be asked to be tested for the disease prior to leaving their hometowns, or immediately upon arrival at Boise State. Additional periodic testing might be required over the course of the semester.
The press release said the university will not create “large, densely crowded gatherings” like it has in the past, and gatherings in living spaces and common areas will likely be limited. Students “should expect” to wear masks on campus except in their rooms. Faculty and staff will be required to wear masks on campus and follow physical distancing requirements until further notice.
The move-in process for students may also be spaced out over the course of several days for social distancing. Meal service will continue, but it will be to-go for most or all of the fall semester, and seating areas both indoors and outside will be reduced.
Student athletes will not be able to practice until they test negative for COVID-19 and will be regularly tested for the virus throughout the semester. Practice for contact sports will resume under “strict supervision” and masks will be required. The status of games and competitions is still up in the air, but the university does not expect things to return to normal.
Some employees will begin returning work on campus beginning the week of July 7, which will be focused on services that provide direct support for faculty or students. To return to work, employees may have to be tested for COVID-19 upon their return and periodically throughout the semester, take pre-shift temperature checks, or complete questionnaires about possible symptoms.
Plans are still underway for research both in the field and the lab to resume in a staged approach, which will include access to personal protective equipment.
The release encouraged organizations and departments to use technology for meetings in order to maintain social distancing instead of in-person gatherings, but it did not mention banning groups from meeting. However, event and meeting space will be prioritized for academic coursework and essential university business.
University-sponsored travel will be suspended until the end of the calendar year. If travel is absolutely necessary, the student or faculty member will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon return or until they test negative for COVID-19 before returning to campus.
In the buildings, additional cleaning will be added, some interior doors may be removed to allow for people to pass in and out without having to touch a surface and one-way pedestrian traffic will be instituted in some places.
The university is also working on plans to institute its own contact tracing program to identify and isolate students and faculty who may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19. An app may be developed to help with this process, but more details will be available later.