Indiana University develops multiple scenarios for re-opening campuses

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.— Indiana University sent a letter to students and staff on Thursday detailing its current work to plan for five possible re-opening scenarios for the fall of 2020.

The school closed down all of its campuses to in-person activities during the spring 2020 semester and moved classes online as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. 

In a letter to students, IU President Michael A. McRobbie explained five different scenarios that the university is considering for the 2020-21 academic year.

McRobbie outlined two of the scenarios in detail, writing:

Scenario 1 is a return to in-person teaching and research in the fall. This, of course, is the scenario all of us would most prefer, but it is also highly unlikely. As experts have warned, it is likely we will need to continue social distancing and many other preventive measures to detect and protect against the spread of COVID-19 until a vaccine is widely deployed. This will mean that even a return to in-person teaching and research would require careful consideration of, among other measures, reconfiguring large lecture classes; re-engineering courses and performances that bring people into close physical contact; and modifying laboratory and studio practices to ensure proper distancing, numbers of people in gatherings and cleaning.

Scenario 2 is a "hybrid" reopening in the fall involving both in-person and virtual teaching and research. At this point, this is the scenario we believe is the most likely, though this could change rapidly with some new positive or negative development. The balance between in-person and virtual teaching would emerge from the impact of continuing public health directives. This scenario has several variations, each of which would require a high level of flexibility to accommodate rapid change in the course of the pandemic, as well as the need to accommodate students and faculty who are unable to attend class in-person -- whether due to illness, self-isolation, special vulnerability to COVID-19 or travel restrictions. 

The letter said that the university is considering three more scenarios that involve the pandemic remaining so serious that the fall semester would have to be held virtually for some or all of the school year. 

A Restart Committee has been formed and will be led by IU Executive Vice President and IU School of Medicine Dean Jay Hess.

Each IU campus will establish its own committee for re-opening. The letter did not say when or how these groups will be formed. 

A timeline for restarting university operations was not given in the letter, as McRobbie wrote that the decision will come from Governor Eric Holcomb's decision as well. The letter did state that the university hopes to begin relaunching university activity in May.

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