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The Syllabus: The grand reopening, or what local colleges plan to do in the fall

The Syllabus: The grand reopening, or what local colleges plan to do in the fall

College generic graduation commencement grads in profile

It looks like the vast majority of local colleges and universities plan to reopen their campuses in August for in-person instruction. It also looks like the college experience will be a lot different in the fall than it has been in the past. A worldwide pandemic has that kind of effect, you know.

I don't plan to use this space to tackle the question of whether or not it's wise to reopen in August. I blogged about the thoughts of others in higher ed a month ago in this space. You don't have to look too hard to find lots of people raising lots of concerns about thousands (or tens of thousands in some cases) of students and employees crowding onto college campuses where space and privacy are at a premium. And on Twitter this morning, a UNC-Wilmington professor of higher ed posed a key question (and click through to see the whole thread):

I'm planning to use this space to keep track of who's doing what in the fall. I'll start out with the local schools and some of the big state universities outside my coverage area, and I'll add more schools when I have time to do so. I meant to publish this list a couple of weeks ago, but news has kept breaking, and I've been stretched thinner than the patience of college students and employees wanting to know what they're in for when they return to campus two months from now.

So far, most of the schools I cover are doing more or less the same thing:

• Institutions will open in August for in-person on-campus instruction but with compressed calendars that allow for the same number of class days (at least 75, including exams) over a slightly shorter period of time. Most schools won't have fall break, and campuses will remain empty from Thanksgiving until, presumably, the start of the spring semester in January.

• Classes will be offered in-person, online and/or in a hybrid mode, which is a combination of in-person and online formats. Most final exams will be given remotely.

• Social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing will be the norm. Also expect to see lots and lots of cleaning.

• A few big fall events have been canceled already.

Bill Roper, interim president of the UNC System, covers a lot of fall 2020 ground in an interview earlier this month with Higher Ed Works. Click here to check it out.

So here's a broad overview of schools' plans for the fall. For more details, click the links below. Note that some institutions have announced only a few major changes so far, while others already have laid out significant modifications to the fall semester.

In Greensboro

UNCG: Will start fall classes Aug. 18 and end Nov. 24. No fall break. Exams will be given online after Thanksgiving (Nov. 30-Dec. 5). Winter commencement is still scheduled for Dec. 10 (doctoral hooding ceremony) and Dec. 11 (undergraduate and master's degrees). No major changes to student housing or dining announced. Click here for UNCG's initial May 18 announcement, and click here for a June 5 update on classes and student life. Click here for more UNCG updates.

N.C. A&T: Fall classes run from Aug. 19 to Nov. 24. Fall break has been canceled. Exams will be given remotely after Thanksgiving (Dec. 7-11). Winter commencement is still scheduled for Dec. 12. In-person classes will be enrolled at a third of normal capacity. Mask wearing is strongly encouraged. Some rooms in older dorms will be converted to single occupancy. Maximum capacity in on-campus dining facilities will be cut in half. On-campus gatherings in the fall semester limited to 10 people inside (except classes and dining) and 25 people outside (except football). Capacity at Truist (former Aggie) Stadium could be reduced by about two thirds to about 7,800.

Click here for A&T's May 18 announcement, and click here for a guide for students returning to campus. For more details about A&T's reopening, click here, then click on "Resources for Students," then click on "Materials from the June 4 Virtual Town Hall for Student Leaders."

Guilford College: Fall classes start Aug. 19. There's no fall break, but there will be a two-day break in early September between the fall semester's three-week and 12-week sessions. In-person classes end Nov. 20. Final two weeks of classes and exams will be done online after Thanksgiving. Some students (athletes and students with special circumstances) may seek to stay on campus after the holiday. Guilford may convert double-occupancy dorm rooms to singles. Click here for Guilford's June 5 announcement.

Greensboro College: In-person fall semester classes will run from Aug. 19 to Nov. 24. Final exams will be online from Dec. 1-5. Fall break, Assessment Day and Showcase Day have been canceled for the fall semester. Spring semester is scheduled to start Jan. 11. Click here for the college's June 1 announcement.

Bennett College: The college plans to begin fall semester classes Aug. 17 but has not yet decided if it will reopen campus or continue with remote instruction. "Bennett is evaluating how to best meet the educational, health and safety needs of its students, and a final decision will be announced in the coming weeks," a college spokesman told me June 11.

Elon University School of Law: Will reopen with in-person instruction in the fall. All persons must wear masks in the law school's main downtown Greensboro building. Click here for more details.

In Guilford County

GTCC: Fall semester classes are scheduled to start Aug. 17 on their regular schedules and in their traditional formats; registration is underway. This summer, GTCC is offering its regular in-person classes and additional online courses. Adult Education classes are scheduled to resume July 6. All students, employees and visitors will be required to wear masks on campus. Click here for more details about GTCC's operations.

In High Point

High Point University: Fall semester classes will start Aug. 18 (a week early) and end Nov. 24. Exams will be given online Dec. 2-4 and Dec. 7-9. There's no fall break. Class of 2020 commencement, postponed for May, has been rescheduled for Aug. 22. Click here for HPU's May 29 announcement, and click here for more details about calendar changes.

In Alamance County

Elon University: Elon announced a comprehensive return to campus plan June 8. Highlights include fall classes beginning on campus Aug. 19 (six days earlier than scheduled) and ending Nov. 23. Exams will be given remotely from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4. Fall break will be two days — Oct. 7 and Nov. 3 (Election Day). Students and employees will undergo a health screening before returning to campus. Masks will be required in classrooms and recommended in public spaces. Classrooms, offices, dining facilities and other on-campus spaces will be reconfigured to allow for social distancing. Attendance will be limited at concerts, performances, lectures and athletic events. Homecoming (Oct. 16-18) and Family Weekend (Oct. 23-25) will be held virtually. Click here to read a news release, and click here to visit Elon's Ready & Resilient website.

In Winston-Salem

Wake Forest University: In-person on-campus classes will run from Aug. 26 to Nov. 24. Students will finish fall semester classes and take exams at home from Nov. 30 to Dec. 18. There's no fall break. Class of 2020 commencement is scheduled for Oct. 31. Wake Forest announced some reopening details June 12 and promised more by June 30. Visit Wake Forest's Our Way Forward website for the university's fall semester plans.

Winston-Salem State University: Fall semester classes start Aug. 17 (a week earlier than scheduled) and end Nov. 20. Final exams will be given online Nov. 23 to Dec. 2. Fall break has been canceled. Masks are encouraged in classrooms and most spaces on campus. Classes will be scheduled from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., and time between class periods has been extended to 20 minutes. Classes will have fewer students than normal to allow for social distancing. Some classes will be held in auditoriums in non-academic buildings. For details, visit the university's Road Map to Fall 2020 website.

Forsyth Tech: The community college plans to open the fall semester Aug. 17 with a mix of face-to-face and online class options. Forsyth Tech says it plans to end face-to-face instruction in most classes by Thanksgiving. Click here for Forsyth Tech's coronavirus information page, which includes specific information for students and employees.

UNC School of the Arts: On-campus classes for undergraduate, graduate and high school students will run from Aug. 17 to Nov. 19. Fall break has been canceled. Some exams will be given on campus Nov. 20-24, while the rest will be given online after Thanksgiving. Click here for the school's May 28 announcement, and click here for more details about its fall 2020 plans.

Salem College: A Salem Academy and College spokesman told me June 11 that the private woman's college and high school will announce its fall 2020 plans this week.

UNC System schools

Here's what some of the other UNC System schools are doing:

UNC-Chapel Hill: Will start fall classes Aug. 10 (two weeks earlier than scheduled) and finish final exams by Nov. 24. Fall break has been canceled. Class sizes will be smaller, buildings will be reconfigured for one-way traffic and there will be additional time between classes. Face masks will be required inside all classrooms and public spaces of all campus buildings. Two residence halls have been set aside — one for on-campus students who have been exposed to COVID-19, and another for those who have tested positive. Up to 1,000 new undergraduates will be allowed to start the fall semester online; click here for details about the Carolina Away program. Click here to read the university's May 21 announcement, and click here for the Carolina Together website, which will have regular updates on fall semester operations at UNC-CH. Some UNC-CH professors, meanwhile, have said they're uneasy about returning to campus this fall. Staff members share similar concerns.

N.C. State University: Fall classes start Aug. 10 (nine days earlier than scheduled) and end Nov. 13. Exams will be held Nov. 16-20, and students won't return to campus until the spring semester. There's no fall break. Class capacities will be reduced, and larger classes will be held online or via a hybrid method. Effective July 1 and throughout the fall semester, face masks will be required in all university buildings except dorm rooms and private offices and in many outdoor spaces on campus. Packapalooza 2020 has been canceled. Click here to visit N.C. State's coronavirus web page, and click here for campus updates about fall semester operations.

Staff writer John Newsom covers higher education for the News & Record of Greensboro and the Winston-Salem Journal.

Have something to say about this blog post? Email him at You can also follow him on Twitter at @JohnNewsomNR.

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