CU Boulder’s Spring Semester Will Start Virtually As Cases Continue To Surge

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A statue of the University of Colorado Boulder mascot Ralphie in front of a temporary outdoor study area. Boulder, Tuesday, Sept 22, 2020.

For at least the first month of the University of Colorado Boulder's upcoming semester, all classes will be held remotely. Chancellor Philip DiStefano cited the rapid increase in COVID-19 infections across the state and nationally as the primary reason. 

Colorado’s largest university is targeting February 15 as a potential start date for the reopening of campus and resumption of in-person classes. 

University officials are asking students to delay their return to Boulder if they traveled outside the college town for the holidays. On-campus residence halls will remain closed until in-person classes resume.

Interim vice chancellor Patrick O'Rourke said CU chose to delay move-in until the burden is eased for on-campus residents. Students who can't properly use remote learning software from their current location may be allowed to return early.

""If there are students who would experience a hardship in being able to access remote learning, that is something they can reach out to the campus and to housing and dining in order to be able to look at an arrangement to be able to return earlier," O'Rourke said.

He added this would likely be the exception, not the rule.

During the fall semester, which ends later this week, classes temporarily shifted to remote learning following a steady increase in COVID-19 cases among the student population. Boulder County also issued a now-expired order that prohibited gatherings of people ages 18 to 22.

DiStefano said the decision to delay spring in-person classes was made in consultation with state and local health officials. He added that he hopes keeping campus closed will help cases decrease and ensure a smoother semester. 

“We will do our best to avoid the back-and-forth shifts that created uncertainty for our campus community in the fall,” DiStefano said.

In addition to the delay, the university announced that its spring commencement ceremony will be held virtually. 

In November, University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy, who oversees several statewide campuses, including CU Boulder, told Colorado Matters it was uncertain whether classes will be in-person when the new semester begins. 

“We're guided by the dials that the county and the state set,” Kennedy said. “Those dials, we're now in a red [level] in three of our four counties.” 

This is a developing story and may be updated.