UConn has just announced that out-of-state students who are enrolled only in online courses will not be allowed to live in university housing this fall and the school is asking them to stay home for the semester.
This comes as students are scheduled to return to campus for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close in March and move to remote learning.
This is part of the school’s plan to reduce the density on campus and comes after consulting with the state Department of Public Health and infectious disease experts at UConn Health. It is also to reduce the risk of illness and enable greater quarantine capability in the event it is needed.
UConn said the decision does not apply to students who have any in-person elements to their coursework and program. That includes hybrids, working in research labs and training with teams.
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UConn said it also does not apply to international students or students already residing on campus.
Following is the letter to the UConn community that was posted online.
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“Dear UConn Community:
“In recent communications with the state Department of Public Health and our own infectious disease experts at UConn Health, we have come to the difficult conclusion that we need to further de-densify our campus residential spaces. This is to both reduce the risk of illness and enable greater quarantine capability in the event it is needed, and we believe it gives us a design which, with everyone’s cooperation, allows UConn to not only open successfully but complete the semester as planned.
“Accordingly, out-of-state students who are enrolled in only online courses are being asked to stay home and will not be permitted to live in University housing during the fall 2020 semester.
“This decision does not apply to students who have any in-person elements to their coursework and program, including hybrids, working in research labs, training with teams, etc. It also does not apply to international students (who rely on visas and would struggle with online learning given international time zones) or students already residing on campus.
“Affected students will be contacted directly later today by the Department of Residential Life. Housing and dining fees already paid will be refunded and they will not be charged any cancellation fees. This communication will include instructions regarding an appeal process for those students with unique circumstances who, for any number of reasons, cannot remain at home for the upcoming semester. All impacted students will remain eligible for spring 2021 housing provided the university is fully open.
“This was a very difficult and unwelcome decision to have to make. In making a choice between the options available to us, we were guided by what would produce the greatest public health benefit and the least academic disruption. I know that this change will be a great disappointment to the hundreds of out-of-state students who wished to return to campus. We are committed to providing you and all of our students with an exceptional learning experience and keeping you as connected to the UConn family as we can, regardless of where you are living.
“During this challenging time, we are guided by the advice of public health officials. While the prevalence of the disease is low in Connecticut, that is not the case in many other states. By asking our out-of-state students who don’t need to be here in person for their studies to stay home, we are aiming at preserving the extraordinary progress Connecticut has made in arresting the spread of the virus.
“Educating our students in a pandemic requires sacrifices to provide a safe learning environment. In addition to the impact of this decision on some of our out-of-state students, our students who do return to our campuses will also have to make personal sacrifices including strictly abiding by rules that require a campus quarantine to start the semester, face mask usage at all times, and keeping physical distance from one another. Similar requirements of masking and distancing are mandated by the state for off-campus residents, as well as quarantines for those from most outside states.
“To all of our students, in Connecticut or away, in person or virtual, I look forward to welcoming you to the fall semester in the days ahead. Our faculty have been working for months now with our Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning to deliver the pedagogy that best fits the learning objectives of each particular course, and our staff have been working non-stop to redesign our physical spaces, signage, virtual platforms and support services to keep you safe and well.
“Whether you are traveling or not in the coming days, take care and be well.