Two Major U.S. Universities Extend Remote Classes Into 2021

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Rutgers University will hold most of its classes next semester online, making it one of the first big U.S. schools to extend the shift to virtual learning.

The University of Michigan, meanwhile, announced Friday that its next semester plans will include more remote courses, fewer undergraduates living on campus and more Covid-19 testing.

The New Jersey public university will hold limited in-person instruction for the spring term set for mid-January, primarily courses that require a physical presence such as lab research, studio courses, and clinical instruction, Christopher J. Molloy, chancellor of Rutgers-New Brunswick, said Friday in an emailed statement.

“While we are eager to increase your presence and expand on-campus housing, the pandemic’s dynamic nature dictates that we proceed in a manner that enables us to pivot to full-remote instruction seamlessly if necessary,” Molloy said.

Colleges have been grappling with Covid-19 since March, when they sent students home to limit the spread of the virus. Their bottom lines are being affected by enrollment declines, refunds for room and board and new costs for safety measures such as coronavirus testing.

About 50,000 students attend Rutgers, including more than 36,000 undergraduates, according to federal data. It also operated mostly online for the semester that began in September.

Michigan’s plans also include mandatory weekly coronavirus testing for undergraduate students living, learning, working or doing research in person on the Ann Arbor campus, the school said. Undergraduates who don’t need to be on campus should remain at their permanent residences for the semester and study remotely.

Many U.S. schools will end their often limited in-person experience at the Thanksgiving holiday in late November and continue the term online. Some are announcing plans for the following semester that typically begins in January.

Bowdoin College said its new term will start Feb. 8, two weeks later than usual. The private school in Brunswick, Maine, will bring seniors, juniors and sophomores back to campus, plus first-year attendees with special situations, including international students. All other freshmen will study remotely and classes will continue to be offered primarily online.

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