UVM Says Students Will Return to Campus in the Fall | Off Message

UVM Says Students Will Return to Campus in the Fall


The University of Vermont campus - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • The University of Vermont campus
Updated at 5:11 p.m.

The University of Vermont announced Wednesday that it intends to bring students back to campus for in-person learning this fall.

“We’re being both clear-eyed and pragmatic and are informed by experts in public health, government and education, in addition to our own medical personnel,” school president Suresh Garimella said in a video that accompanied a letter to the community about the decision.

The statement contained scant details about specific precautions the university will take both on campus and in bringing back students from around the world, including many from areas hit hard by the pandemic.

Data provided by UVM show that about 7,800 undergraduate students — or 73 percent — of 10,700 enrolled last fall were from out of state. Massachusetts led the way with 1,905 students, followed by New York with about 1,200. Another 776 came from Connecticut, while about 654 were international students or listed with an "unknown" home state.

Enrollment data for the coming school year won't be available until closer to the beginning of the semester, a spokesperson said Wednesday.

“Return to an in-person campus will require more testing, tracing, and improved protocols developed through collaboration across sectors and around the globe,” Garimella wrote in the statement. “And it will require additional precautions on campus, in our classrooms, and in our residence halls and dining facilities.”

In the video, Garimella said that plans will include ways to continue in-person learning "even if some members of the community test positive for COVID-19."

Garimella referenced a UVMStrong—Fall 2020 Advisory Committee, created earlier this month, that will advise him “on a full scope of possible measures to protect the health of our campus community,” the letter reads.
“This includes developing a set of plans to help enable us to maintain an in-person campus, while still protecting our community and remaining compliant with government and public health directives,” he wrote.

The news comes on the same day that the Vermont Department of Health reported no new coronavirus cases in the state for the first time since March 13.

UVM announced on March 11 that students would begin remote learning after spring break ended March 16. On March 23, Garimella announced that students wouldn’t return to campus through the end of the school year.
In-person commencement ceremonies, originally scheduled for May 16 and 17, have been postponed, and the school’s summer session will be conducted remotely.

But come fall, students will be back in Burlington.

"It is all but certain that cultural and behavioral shifts will be required as we navigate a world challenged by COVID-19," Garimella said in the video. "But ongoing education is critical, not just on an individual level, but to our state, our nation and society as a whole. We are looking forward to the fall semester and will have plans in place to make this happen."