The University of Delaware changed course July 22 announcing it will offer online education for the majority of classes this fall, with no tuition increase. At the same time, President Dennis Assanis said students will have an opportunity to earn free credits over winter session.
“We have been monitoring all developments related to the pandemic. While hoping to return to campus this fall with implementation of a balanced mix of face-to-face and online education, our ability to remain agile with readiness to pivot remains critical as the public health situation evolves,” Assanis wrote in a letter made public. “As you may be aware, new and concerning developments have surfaced pertaining to COVID-19 resurgence at local, national and global levels. In the context of these recent developments, and given our commitment to the health and safety of the UD community, we feel it is necessary to shift our plan until conditions improve. The majority of our academic courses in the fall 2020 semester will be delivered online.”
Exceptions may be made, Assanis said, with utmost attention to protective measures and safety protocols for strictly limited areas of study that require face-to-face instruction for academic progress. These may include nursing practice and certain engineering labs, animal handling courses, phlebotomy practicum experiences and one-to-one music instruction. Select courses for international students and others with very specific needs will also be offered, he said, and on-campus research activities remain limited to efforts that require access to UD facilities, fields and partner sites.
Tuition, fees and scholarships
While the university continues to make significant investments in faculty and in online technology to lead students to success, tuition for the 2020-21 academic year will remain flat, with no increase from the 2019-20 academic year.
In order to maximize value and maintain momentum for student success, the university is enhancing opportunities for all undergraduate students to complete at least 30 credits per academic year in support of the Finish in Four graduation goal. While tuition costs remain the same for 12 or more credits in UD’s fall and spring semesters, undergraduate students taking 12 credits in the fall will be able to take up to an additional six credits this academic year during the winter and/or summer sessions at no additional tuition charge. In essence, eligible undergraduate students will have access to up to six “free” credits from the fall to apply during the upcoming 2020-21 winter or summer sessions, gaining great value and individual flexibility. Similarly, additional tuition charge will not be incurred if an undergraduate student takes 15 credits in the fall and would like to take an additional three credits in the winter or summer session.
“We understand this is a difficult time for everyone. Access to technology will be key to academic success. Student Financial Services will soon provide details of a process for students who have a demonstrated need to acquire funds for appropriate technology purchases in support of the learning experience for this academic year,” Assanis said.
University officials are currently reviewing student fees, he said, which will be adjusted based on evaluation of services that can be provided both virtually and in person.
University classes are scheduled to begin Tuesday, Sept. 1, and classes will be held on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7. Other than that, Assanis said, there are no changes to the academic calendar.
Other academic information includes:
- Weekly classes will follow the original Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday schedule; classes will be held at regular daily scheduled times.
- The majority of undergraduate and graduate classes – and all of those offered through the Associate in Arts Program – will be online.
- Select courses that academic departments have designated as requiring an in-person component will go fully online after the Thanksgiving break, with the last day for any class to meet in person being Friday, Nov. 20. The Registrar’s Office and the academic departments are finalizing the list of courses that will meet in person. Course information will be viewable in Courses Search.
- The Registrar’s Office will notify students Aug. 3 that their fall schedules are available for review on WebReg, followed by the beginning of fall open enrollment on Aug. 10. Student enrollment information will be updated to reflect the most current plan for open enrollment.
- All final exams will be online and are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12 through Friday, Dec. 18.
- Graduate and undergraduate students who are engaged in research requiring access to campus will continue to have their access to on-campus facilities reviewed and approved by their faculty advisor, department chair, dean and the vice president for Research, Scholarship and Innovation.
Residence life and housing
On-campus housing spaces in residence hall rooms, suites and apartments will be limited primarily to students whose academic program requires on-campus, face-to-face instruction. Students who meet predefined criteria, including international students, students in field placements or clinical rotations, and students who require housing due to hardship will also be considered. All current housing contract holders should consider those contracts deferred until spring 2021 and will receive an email from Residence Life & Housing detailing their options for housing and dining. Residence Life & Housing staff has developed a plan to significantly reduce occupancy of residence halls by converting all bedrooms to single-student occupancy along with the planned implementation of numerous precautions to promote students' health. Any student who wants to cancel their housing contract for the entire academic year can do so without penalty.
Student life activities
All Student Life support services and engagement opportunities will be offered both virtually and in person in alignment with health protocols, and changes to access will always be updated on the Student Life Virtual Hub. Registered student organizations, and fraternities and sororities will be supported to operate virtually so all students can participate, regardless of location.
The library, Little Bob and student centers will be available for student use, including the Esports Arena and Hen Zone. In-person activities may increase over the course of the semester based on the demonstrated health of the community and evidence of adherence to UD’s expectations, Assanis said.
“This latest development certainly does not reflect how we would like to begin a new academic year,” said Assanis. “I pledge to you that we will seize the earliest opportunity to fully return to campus as soon as conditions permit in the 2020-21 academic year, but we must do this thoughtfully and responsibly. I am very optimistic that we will emerge stronger than ever by taking decisive measures now to ensure that UD will thrive for years to come.”
Keeping UD healthy
While in-person activity must be limited to reduce the density on campus of students, faculty, researchers, and staff, Assanis said, the university will continue to advance initiatives for campus protection and safety, equipping and accelerating the return to campus as soon as permissible in coordination with relevant federal, state and public health authorities. This includes thorough and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of all campus spaces, and requiring social distancing and face coverings.
All employees, students and visitors will complete a daily electronic health-screening questionnaire to help ensure the health of the campus community and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Any individual reporting symptoms or close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be advised not to come to campus, and to seek medical care and testing.
The University of Delaware will test students, faculty and staff as they return to campus this fall and thereafter as appropriate in accordance with public health guidance. “We are planning on a variety of testing approaches, including commercial testing, as well as in-house testing,” Assanis said.
Contact tracing, assisted by web-based modalities and including information captured through use of the university’s internet service, will be implemented in coordination with the Delaware Division of Public Health to identify people who may have come in close contact with COVID-19-positive individuals and refer those people for testing.
These new approaches will be implemented while balancing and respecting the privacy concerns they understandably raise. UD is identifying residential housing, medical and food services for students who need to be isolated or quarantined when COVID-19-positive cases occur.