CU Boulder will start the spring semester remotely, citing the Marshall Fire and rising COVID-19 cases

Hart Van Denburg/CPR news
Snow blanketed the University of Colorado Boulder campus on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Students were allowed to return to some dorms and in-person classes earlier this month.

The University of Colorado Boulder will start its spring semester fully remote for the first two weeks. Classes are set to start Monday, January 10. Campus leaders said the decision came in response to the destructive Marshall Fire in Louisville and Superior, and a new COVID-19 wave brought on by the omicron variant. 

The university had previously stated its intention to stick to in-person learning, despite the omicron variant’s spread. 

Chancellor Phil DiStefano said the combination of the fire, which destroyed nearly a thousand homes, and the pandemic left the university in a position where it is unable to welcome back thousands of students. 

“The remote start will allow us to provide the support needed to our impacted students, faculty and staff,” DiStefano said in a letter to campus. “It will also help us provide resources in support of communitywide recovery efforts.”

CU said it will attempt to help students impacted by the fires with food and housing assistance. Dorms will remain closed until in-person classes begin in late January.

Students and faculty may be feeling a sense of déjà vu. CU started last spring in a nearly identical fashion. The rapid spread of COVID-19 infection at the time, fueled by the lack of public access to vaccinations, caused the university to delay in-person learning by a month.