DePaul University will move the “vast majority” of its fall classes online and limit its residential halls to students with exceptional circumstances in response to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, the university announced Wednesday.
“We do not believe that currently there is a reasonable way to open the campus to the full extent we originally had planned and continue to effectively manage the potential health risks to the university and local community,” DePaul administrators wrote in emails to students, faculty and staff. The university hopes to welcome more students back to campus in the winter term if health conditions allow, the emails said.
The change is a marked retreat from the university’s reopening plan to “deliver as many classes as possible safely on campus this fall” that was announced mid-May. Classes will now be delivered via remote formats with “few exceptions for pedagogical reasons.” Students enrolled for on-campus classes will receive information “soon” about whether their courses will remain in-person, the email to students said.
Faculty members will hear from their department about any changes to course formats, and staff will contact their managers about in-person requirements, said the email to faculty and staff.
To reduce campus density, housing in university residential halls will not be available for most students who’d planned to live there. All students no longer living on campus for the fall will be automatically refunded for housing and dining charges.
It remains to be seen whether students will come back to Chicago to live in off-campus housing despite the new announcement.
Residential halls will be open for students “whose situations make it extremely difficult or impossible for them to live or study from home,” said an email to all residential students. Those could include students with safety concerns in their current housing or are dependent on university resources like dining and technology as well as some international students and athletes.
Students who still have in-person courses scheduled after class formats are updated “in a few days” could also be considered.
Students who live on campus this fall will be placed in single rooms but charged the double room rate of $3,367 per quarter. Pricing for meal plans are yet to be determined, the email said.
DePaul will also cancel the student activity fee and the athletics fee. The student U-Pass granting unlimited access to CTA buses and trains will be optional.
Campus will be “a bit more open than it was in spring quarter,” administrators said in their emails. Most DePaul buildings will be accessible, including faculty offices, library services and some computer labs.
Two town halls, one for students and parents as well as another for faculty and staff, are being planned for next week.
The change comes after administrators said at the end of July they were reconsidering initial reopening plans for a partially in-person fall semester.
There are currently 297 newly confirmed cases daily and a 5% positivity rate of coronavirus in Chicago based on a seven-day rolling average.
Loyola University Chicago recently announced it would not reopen its dormitories this fall, reversing an earlier plan.
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