Many North Texas colleges, universities planning to reopen their campus for classes in the fall

Universities and colleges across the country are starting to make plans for what the fall semester may look like if students are able to return to campus this year.

Some North Texas universities have announced that summer classes will continue to be online, but many are planning to reopen campus this fall.

However, things may not look like what students are used to.

“This is certainly a unique semester, for not only SMU, but I would say for every college and university across the country,” SMU Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. KC Mmeje said.

On what would normally be the weekend leading up to the last week of classes at SMU, students would typically be on campus gearing up for finals week.

But it’s been far from a normal semester.

Coronavirus restrictions shut down the campus mid-March as students and faculty transitioned to online courses.

“I don't think any of us anticipated at the start of the semester that midway through we be confronted with a global pandemic that would require us to significantly change the way that we operate,” Mmeje said.

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For now, SMU administrators have decided to continue doing online courses for the first two sessions of summer courses and then go from there.

If students return in the fall, the campus will likely look much different

The university president has put together a task force in charge of reopening plans.

“At this point, it's fair to expect that social distancing will still be an expectation,” Mmeje explained. “We expect that we'll be able to continue with some of our normal activity. Some activities will look very different, if they're allowed to happen at all.”

The university is considering options, like wearing masks, a mix of online and in-person classes, depending on class size, and possibly limiting occupancy in residence halls.

“If we have to resort to 50 percent occupancy residency plan, then we would look to make arrangements, perhaps with local hotels to see if we're able to house our students and some of those spaces, but really, all options are on the table at this point,” Mmeje.

Texas Christian University has also formed a task force to look at plans for reopening this fall with a planned start date of August 24.

TCU officials said they will phase students and faculty back to campus based on guidance from the task force.

Other universities, like the University of Texas at Austin, also plan to reopen in the fall with some classes online and others in-person.

Administrators said they’ll announce plans for fall semester at the end of June.

In a letter to students, the president of the University of North Texas said the new normal will look different, and they will be providing updates soon on what fall semester will look like soon.

Officials for the University of Oklahoma said they too plan to return to campus in the fall, and are possibly looking into using larger classrooms to allow for social distancing, wearing masks, and increasing on-campus testing.

Texas Tech and Texas A&M also plan to return to in-person classes in the fall.

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