University of Iowa planning for in-person classes in fall 2020 semester

University of Iowa leaders have formed a team tasked with constructing a plan to return to campus safely for the fall 2020 semester.


Tom Jorgensen/University of iowa

The University of Iowa campus looking west from Old Capitol and the Pentacrest.

Mary Hartel, News Reporter

The University of Iowa tentatively plans to continue in-person instruction and bring campus back to life for the fall 2020 semester, according to a campus update sent Friday morning.

President Bruce Harreld and Provost Montserrat Fuentes noted in their email that while there are no guaranteed plans for how the UI will operate in the fall 2020 semester, UI leaders have assembled a team led by the Provost’s Office and rooted within the UI Critical Incident Management team to construct a plan for moving forward with classes in August, the email said.

“Though the future is not set in stone — and we continue to monitor the latest guidance and information about this pandemic — we ARE planning to resume face-to-face instruction this fall,” the email said.

State Board of Regents President Mike Richards has previously said Iowa’s three public universities will resume instruction in person again in the fall. Faculty and students, however, have indicated they remain uncertain whether to actually plan for a return to full operations in the fall as universities across the U.S. openly speculate whether it will be safe to return by then.

The UI has currently only canceled in-person instruction through the first three sessions of summer classes, which end mid-June. No determination has been made yet about summer sessions four and five, which start mid-June.

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Amid the “extremely fluid,” situation, the team will follow guidelines outlined by UI medical and public-health experts, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Iowa Department of Public Health, and the regents. 

These state and federal agencies helped in influencing the UI’s “rapid and deliberate” response to COVID-19 thus far, the email said.

“We are confident that this same team will now provide us with the steps necessary to safely reopen,” the email said.

Given the twists and turns of the last few weeks, Harreld and Fuentes wrote that reopening campus will likely also bring unknowns.

So, we have asked this team to explore various options, keeping our response to unforeseen events flexible while putting our community’s safety at the fore,” the email said. We must anticipate what we can, but prepare ourselves to react to what we cannot.

Harreld and Fuentes wrote that the UI is a place of strength and diversity, and said the Hawkeye community will proceed in getting back to normal with caution. They thanked UI community members for their diligence throughout these uncertain times. 

“Together, we will see our campus safely brought to life again,” the email said.