NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – University of Oklahoma officials plan to return students to in-person classes on all three university campuses for the 2020 fall semester.
OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. issued a letter to university community members Friday announcing the university’s intention to recommence in-person classes.
University officials moved all classes online and extended spring break by a week in March. Officials urged students living in residence halls to move off campus if they were able to so to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Officials have also decided summer classes will be held online. These decisions were made as the COVID-19 pandemic grew larger and positive cases of coronavirus were confirmed within the OU community.
“After careful deliberation, our intention is to return to in-person educational operations on all three campuses by this fall, offering traditional instruction and residential life. We are doing everything we can to make that realistic and safe. We are acutely aware of the certain challenges COVID-19 will present as we pursue this goal and are planning to address the issues proactively and creatively,” Harroz said in the letter. “We are prepared to adapt instructional and housing models as appropriate to protect our community and still offer the life-changing in-person OU experience. Flexibility will be a guiding principle as we navigate the coming months, and we will ensure that our students, faculty, and staff are presented with appropriate options to return to our campuses, keeping their safety top of mind.”
Harroz said although campus officials cannot eliminate all risk of COVID-19, they will take every reasonable measure to mitigate it.
“We are fortunate to benefit from the expertise of our own public health and infectious diseases experts, and we are consulting daily with our subject-matter scientists and physicians. Safety precautions will be at the forefront of all campus operations, from the classrooms to the residence halls,” Harroz said.
The following safety precautions will be taken:
- Adapting class schedules
- Utilizing larger classrooms for greater social distancing
- Enabling the widespread use of masks and other PPE
- Increasing on-campus testing
- Providing enhanced cleaning throughout all campuses
“Over the coming weeks, we will work tirelessly to identify the best ways to create the safest possible environment for our campus communities, and we will share the elements of our plan as they continue to be refined,” Harroz said.
The university has an obligation to its students, the state of Oklahoma and society at large, Harroz said.
“As we navigate the coming months, the real measure of our success is not that we just get through this pandemic, but that we emerge from it stronger. I am confident that our OU family is up to this task, and I join each of you in eager anticipation of being together again, safely, this fall,” he said.