The University of Delaware plans to increase its number of students living in on-campus residence halls from 1,300 to 4,000 for the spring semester, Dennis Assanis, the school’s president, announced Wednesday in a message to the school’s students, faculty and staff.
UD plans to start its spring semester on February 15, one week later than scheduled, to “reduce campus activities during the flu season, provide more time for a longer move-in process and allow more campus activities to take place in warmer weather.”
There will be no spring break, an effort to minimize out-of-state travel.
While the school is aiming to increase face-to-face classes, all classes with 50 or more students will be conducted online.
As Assanis discussed in a town hall session with the university community this month, first-year students and seniors will be given priority to take advantage the expanded capacity on campus.
All of these plans are subject to change.
“Of course, it is difficult to say with certainty what will happen in the weeks and months ahead, so our plans must remain flexible to accommodate the evolving nature of the pandemic,” Assanis wrote.
The university is facing a massive budget deficit. A drop in first-year and out-of-state students contributed greatly to a tuition deficit of more than $80 million. Overall, the deficit could fall between $228 million and $288 million for fiscal year 2021.
The university announced another round of cost-saving measures in late September that will include layoffs, a voluntary retirement program and voluntary staff hour reductions. An unpaid leave program similar to a furlough will also occur. Non-union employees will all take a 5% pay cut for the remainder of the fiscal year.
During the town hall presentation in early October, Assanis said the deficit is “directly tied to the pandemic.”
The increase to 4,000 students living on campus represents a jump from 20% capacity, the current level, to 60%.
The university’s Thanksgiving break begins after classes on Friday, Nov. 20. All classes resume virtually on Nov. 30, and most winter courses will be online.
Assanis said the school would be “ramping up our surveillance testing program from 1,000 tests per week now to about 4,000 tests per week so we can quickly identify COVID-positive individuals and support them appropriately.”
This week, UD has reported 27 new cases among students. To date, 372 students and seven employees have tested positive, according to the school’s COVID-19 dashboard.
The spring semester will also bring the return to most sports. Winter sports, like men’s and women’s basketball, begin Nov. 25. All sports postponed from the fall, including football, will begin Jan. 23.
Commencement is planned for May 29, though that is “subject to public health guidelines and requirements.”
Delaware State University is still finalizing its plans for the spring semester.
Earlier this month, Wilmington University announced that its spring 2021 semester will continue to be virtual. Delaware Technical Community College said it will do the same, with limited “skills lab” courses and academic support offered on campus.
Contact Jeff Neiburg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Neiburg.