Here’s our early plan for fall.
It’s rooted in the realistic expectation that by August the spread of the virus will be much reduced, thanks to the vaccine and to the immunity in those who had COVID and recovered.
In our plan, safety is paramount. Our campus this fall will align with state and local health department recommendations for mask wearing and other precautions. And of course, we will adjust our plan carefully should vaccination rates or COVID variants change the landscape.
This fall, we’re planning more face-to-face instruction, undergraduate research, residence hall activities, events, speakers, shows, exhibitions, recreation, esports, intramurals, football, soccer, homecoming and more. Here’s the plan:
We believe that the COVID mitigation strategies, including readily available vaccines, will allow us to return to a class-delivery mix that is similar to before COVID’s emergence last March. A large majority of sections this fall will be face-to-face on campus. We will also develop backup strategies in the event that we need to quickly shift to a different delivery mix should conditions require.
Our individual preferences for teaching delivery mode for next fall are very diverse and reflect some fundamental, yet conflicting, human desires. On one hand, we all desire to be as safe as possible and to drive down unnecessary health risk. Safety practices and protocols will be evaluated and in place. Yet driving down the risk of exposure to COVID also limits our social, community and intellectual bonding, which itself impacts our mental and spiritual well-being. These competing forces cannot be addressed through a one-size-fits-all approach. Thus, we intend to provide a diverse range of solutions for our community to consider.
We will have a range of delivery modes available for our faculty and students, including normal classroom layouts, socially distant layouts as well as virtual classrooms (in several formats such as live online and asynchronous delivery). Socially distant and virtual sections will not require any changes even if we have a COVID resurgence, so these offerings will provide a solid foundation for faculty and student schedules this fall.
If conditions require, we will adapt course delivery to increase safety. Modifications could include more sections with fewer seats, using dual-delivery modes and shifting some course sections to fully online.
We have several months to develop specific strategies that we can deploy if needed. We intend to develop our contingency planning as well as pursue other issues important to faculty and students such as improving access to vaccinations on-campus and sharing solutions to common challenges of face-to-face course delivery during COVID (e.g., which masks work well and exploring alternatives to using a mask while lecturing if vaccinated and socially distant).
Faculty and student health and safety will remain our top priority. Health includes all aspects of well-being – physical, mental and social.
We anticipate that all faculty who so desire will have been vaccinated by the start of fall classes. We will make accommodations if that is not the case. Likewise, faculty and students at high health risk will be placed into the safe environments.
Our award-winning residence halls are planning a safe and engaging fall living experience, rich with programs and activities. We are flexible, too. Want a roommate? No roommate? Want to live at home and commute? We will accommodate student preferences.
For instance, students may request to buy out a double room as a single when they complete room selection. We will honor the request, unless demand exceeds our ability to offer this option.
Students are encouraged to apply for housing early to have the most options for room selection.
Those wishing to have roommates should form their roommate groups in My College Roomie before room selection. Details will be sent by email to students who have completed housing contracts.
We have waived the freshman residential requirement for the 2021-22 academic year, allowing students to choose to commute and providing flexibility for families facing difficult circumstances due to the pandemic. While we strongly believe the residential experience benefits students academically and socially, we want all students who desire a UA education to have the opportunity to attend this fall, regardless of their housing arrangements.
Waiving the residential requirement is one more way UA is supporting the needs of incoming students. Other steps included:
The chefs who create our great menus look forward to welcoming students back this fall for daily treats and special events that will make meals with friends something else to look forward to. We expect all our dining spaces to be open and group dining to be available if conditions allow.
We have hundreds of advisers, counselors and other professionals here to help students adjust to college and thrive. They’ll meet students where they are: In person, virtually or in line at Starbucks on campus.
We have nearly 340 student organizations — focused on academics, the arts, athletics, science, music, leadership, service and more. They’re planning hundreds of welcoming events and social activities for this fall. Students, as August nears, look for emails with more information.
New undergraduate students should look forward to an exciting and informative introduction to Akron through a combination of in-person, on campus and virtual New Student Orientation events. New Roo Weekend, a campus tradition, will give you the opportunity to embrace the campus, community and downtown Akron. Make a Difference Day and Homecoming will be right around the corner!
Our modern rec center will offer a full slate of classes and recreational opportunities to the greatest extent possible. And students can power up for a great fall by gathering friends and joining an intramural or esports league.
Facilities indoors and out will be available to our campus. Yoga on the courtyard, our campus bike share and our Zip Walk all help us embrace the warm days of early fall. The leisure pool, Olympic pool and weight training areas available for everyone working toward their fitness goals.
For details, check out our website as we get closer to fall.
Study abroad provides students with unmatched opportunities to experience other cultures while earning credit toward a degree. Our intent is to restart University-sponsored programs this fall as soon as it is safe to do so.
Our International Center looks forward to welcoming greater numbers of international students to campus this fall. The center’s website has more details about fall admission and enrollment.
We are awaiting guidance from the NCAA and the Mid-American Conference, but we expect a limited number of spectators at our fall athletics events.
Students: As always, admission is free with your student ID. There’s no better way to feel Zips energy than to stand with friends and cheer for the blue and gold.
We know faculty, staff, students and parents will raise other important issues in the months ahead; they will be carefully considered and addressed in our plan. Please get us started: If you have a question or comment, submit it through this form: