Washington University announces plans for fall semester

Since spring, Washington University in St. Louis has been planning for the upcoming fall semester to determine how to bring students, faculty and staff back to the Danforth Campus as safely as possible as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve in the St. Louis region, across the country and around the world. Today, the university announced its plans for the start of the next academic year, which begins in August and September.

“We cannot emphasize enough that there is nothing more important than the safety, health, and well-being of our university community. We have made every decision with this core principle in mind, and with guidance every step of the way from our infectious disease experts at the School of Medicine,” wrote Chancellor Andrew D. Martin and Provost Beverly Wendland in a message to the Danforth Campus community. “Our plan is informed by science. We have made decisions based on all available data, and we will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation as it develops in the weeks and months ahead.”

The “WashU Together” plan includes the implementation of significant changes to reduce campus density and promote a safe and healthy learning and working environment. These include:

    • Public health requirements. All students, faculty, staff and approved visitors are required to: wear masks or face coverings at all times; practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet from other people; screen for symptoms on a daily basis; and practice personal hygiene, including washing hands often.
    • Monitoring, screening and responding to COVID-19. The university is implementing plans for quarantine, isolation and contact tracing within the university community, and it is developing plans for testing students who will be living in university housing when they arrive in September, as well as additional testing during the fall semester for students, faculty or staff who meet certain criteria. More information will be provided in an upcoming communication. 
    • Delivery of instruction. Academic coursework will be delivered in a variety of formats, with some courses being either predominantly online or in-person, and others in a hybrid format, with learning offered both in the classroom and remotely to serve students regardless of whether they are able to be on campus.
    • Residential housing. Changes will be implemented to reduce population density. These include significantly lowering the overall number of students living in Residential Life housing and providing single bedrooms to all who do. 

“We have worked to ensure that we can continue to deliver an outstanding Washington University experience to our students in a manner that is consistent with our highest priority of protecting the healthy, safety and well-being of our entire community,” Martin and Wendland wrote. “At the same time, it is very important for everyone to know this will not be a normal semester. It will look and feel different on campus. But whether or not we are all physically in the same location, we are ‘WashU Together,’ and we are confident that we will weather this storm and come out the other side of COVID-19 stronger than ever before.”

More details will be shared directly with students, faculty and staff, including steps students must take to indicate their intentions and prepare for the fall semester. Additional information about the fall plan is available on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the WashU Together website. 

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