What are Colorado universities going to do this fall?

Learn what colleges in Colorado might look like this fall, and how universities are going to attempt to continue to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.


Campbell Goter

With the COVID-19 pandemic, people are wondering what colleges will be doing this fall.

This fall is going to be quite different by the looks of it. A vast majority of that difference will be occurring at universities and colleges. After all, thousands of students mingle each and every day at school. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this needs to change.

Some ideas posed at Colorado’s major colleges include taking out every other desk in the classrooms in order to leave space between each of the sitting students, holding classes in large hotel conference rooms, or having groups of students take the same blocks so that they don’t interact with too many different people. Leaders are also considering having a mix of online and physical classes. 

Since remote learning started, the leaders of education have worried about how many students will even show up for school in the fall. They’ve wondered if some things needed to be changed—not just next school year, but further into the future.

“It’s not going to be the same,” Andy Feinstein, president of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, said. “We don’t have a lot of clarity this early on about what the guidelines will be at the end of August. It makes for a lot of what-if scenarios and contingency planning.”

Of course, health and safety is the number one priority. But providing a fulfilling education to their students is also one of Colorado’s universities’ top priorities as they consider next year.

CU Boulder Chancellor, Phil DiStefano, wrote in a letter to students, faculty, and staff that said, “As we consider when and how we return to campus, it’s important for us to emphasize that the primary consideration will be the health and safety of our campus community members.”

These schools want to make it an easy transition to remote learning if they need to. This means a lot of online discussions and video lectures. Of course, it’s extremely difficult to transition performing arts, science classes, and visual arts into online classes. 

One thing is clear: we’ll need to be open to new ideas for next year if we’re going to get a good education during this pandemic.

Though some universities and colleges, such as Regis University, have already altered their schedules, others simply plan to go back to the usual. The Community College of Denver, for example, believes that nothing truly needs to change for the fall as long as social distancing guidelines are relaxed. Students will return as usual, and the next year will continue just as it did years before.

High schools don’t have to worry about housing students in the fall, but universities do. Usually, students are crammed into small living spaces on the college campus. Of course, that isn’t going to work. The University of Northern Colorado has already started to speak with local hotels about housing some of their students there. They are attempting to spread them out as much as possible.

According to a recent article posted on The Chronicle, 64% of colleges are planning for in-person classes, 12% are waiting to decide, 10% are considering a range of scenarios, 7% are planning for online classes, and 6% are proposing a hybrid model.

According to CBS Denver, Governor Jared Polis has told Colorado colleges to be prepared to alter some of their usual workings. He suggests that for colleges and high schools, staggering release and passing period times and having schools open at different times could stop major interaction. He states that Colorado universities should “prepare for the possibility” of waiting until January 2021 to open again.

No matter what happens, it is clear that our “normal” has changed. We don’t know what to expect for the fall of 2020, only that each and every Colorado college and university will do what is best for their specific students, instructors, and leaders.

Stay safe, Mavs!

For more COVID-19 coverage, visit The Mav‘s COVID-19 Coverage section.