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University Of Akron Plans To Reopen Campus For Fall 2020 Semester

The University of Akron is projecting $65 million in lost revenue from the coronavirus. [Annie Wu / ideastream]
University of Akron student union building

The University of Akron is planning on resuming in-person classes in the fall.

An announcement released Friday by the university’s president, Gary Miller, said the fall 2020 semester will be a mixture of in-person and online instruction. Residence halls will be reopened and operate with all rooms as single occupancy.

The decision to reopen follows shortly after the announcement thatthe university plans to consolidate its courses from 11 colleges down to 5 to overcome a $65 million budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus.

After the university canceled in-person classes for the spring semester, a survey of Akron students found widespread demand for more face-to-face time with professors, Senior Vice Provost Joe Urgo told ideastream.

“These are really important relationships,” Urgo said. “We do feel considerable pressure from students to the extent possible make face-to-face learning a reality for them.”

The school has yet to work out several of the details for the fall semester. It is also unclear whether sporting events will resume.

“The details are still being worked out to make that possible, and the extent to which that will be possible,” Urgo said. “The NCAA is giving us guidance, continuing guidance for making fall sports possible.”

As universities across the nation plan for the next academic year, some schools are preparing for widespread testing. The University of California, San Diego aims to test 70 to 75 percent of its students every month.

The University of Akron hasn’t decide how much testing it will perform on campus.

“Right now we're talking about a number of different models as more information comes out about testing and the efficacy of it and the frequency that's suggested,” said Urgo. “So we haven't nailed that down yet. We will follow whatever the current best thinking is at the time.”

In a letter to the campus community, Kent State University also announced Friday its plans to resume residential living and in-person classes at the Kent campus in August.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines for reopening colleges and universities the day before the announcements. The revised recommendations include offering a mix of online and in-person classes and designated areas for isolating sick students. The CDC did not address testing at colleges.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media who focuses on criminal justice.