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CU-Boulder returns to in-person learning next month

The spring semester will start with one month of remote learning before in-person instruction resumes on Feb. 15.

BOULDER, Colo. — Students at the University of Colorado-Boulder campus (CU-Boulder) will return to in-person learning on Feb. 15 after starting the semester with remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school will open the spring semester remotely on Thursday with courses designated as in-person or hybrid in-person for the spring semester beginning their in-person format on Monday, Feb. 15, a letter from the university says.

Courses designated as remote or online will continue in those formats for the entire semester. 

RELATED: CU-Boulder chancellor tests positive for COVID-19

Wednesday's update was led by Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Russell Moore. Chancellor Phillip DiStefano, who is recovering from COVID-19, was not on the call.

Watch the full call:

Students will be able to move back into residence halls by appointment beginning on Feb. 7. More information about move-in will be provided soon to those students from Residence Life. There will be two wellness days on Feb. 17 and March 25. No classes will be held on the wellness days; however, the university will be open for business. 

As classes resume in-person and students return to campus, COVID-19 safety measures such as daily check-ins via Buff Pass and required use of face coverings when on campus will remain in place.

There were also be reduced density in campus buildings and social distancing in the classrooms.

CU leaders said they haven't made many changes since the fall to protocols but said they've spent time working with city and public health leaders and feel better prepared to respond to possible surges of COVID-19.

"We did form a partnership, where we formed a response group with the city the county and with Boulder County Public Health that has since morphed into a broader coalition with all of the officials from the surrounding area," said Patrick O’Rourke Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer. "We have regular briefings and policy discussions with them so that we're in a position to respond." 

He also said the school will aggressively enforce conduct and public health order violations so that behaviors that are a danger to the community don't continue.

The in-person course mode and on-campus activities will be closely tied to where Boulder County is on the state COVID-19 dial. The current designation of Level Orange allows for in-person instruction that is less limited and includes small personal gatherings.

Testing

All faculty, staff, and students with a need to be on campus during the spring semester will be required to participate in the campus monitoring surveillance program once a week. The existing requirement for on-campus residents and certain staff to participate weekly will also continue.

Students who do test positive and live in a residence hall will be moved to an isolation space. In the fall, Moore said the university had beds for about 600 students but only needed about half that. During quarantine, students will have food service and have periodic health checks. Additional staff is also being added to those isolation spaces to make sure that all students' needs are met.

Diagnostic testing, contact tracing and case investigation will continue to be available for students. Faculty, staff and students will continue to be able to bring their immediate family/household members to participate in the monitoring program as long as testing capacity permits.

RELATED: Democrats to control CU Board of Regents for first time in generation

Vaccination

Boulder County Public Health and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CPDHE) have asked CU-Boulder to partner on vaccine distribution to faculty, staff and students.

The campus will likely serve as a site where faculty, staff and students can choose to get the vaccine. 

Vaccine timing and availability through CU-Boulder will follow state guidelines and depend heavily upon national and state vaccine supply. Vaccines for most students, faculty and staff will not be available at the beginning of the spring semester or when in-person courses begin.

Plans for the fall semester remain fluid. Moore said they're closely tied to the state's COVID-19 dial and right now it's just too early to say how things will look in the fall even with the vaccine.

"I'm optimistic about the fall, but I'm realistic about what we might be facing in the fall," he said. "Optimism, that's not something we cannot bank on. We have a limited number of vaccines to us now and I hope we'll have an unlimited number but that remains to be seen."

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