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UConn releases reopening plan for fall 2020 semester; students say it could impact learning

Education

STORRS, Conn. (WTNH) — The University of Connecticut has released the first draft of its plans in welcoming new and returning students, faculty and staff for the fall 2020 semester amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressed by UConn President Thomas Katsouleas, the new plans range in detail from the first day of classes to if students and staff need to wear masks while on campus.

In the letter, Katsouleas said the first day of classes will be Aug. 31. Some classes will be online completely, another portion of classes will have students and teachers attend physically and others will be a mix of the two.

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Students will not be returning after Thanksgiving break with the remainder of the semester, including final exams, being available online.

Classroom size will be reduced to adhere to the 6-foot social distancing protocol. As Katsoueleas mentioned, UConn is essentially not going back to how times were before, but rather a new normal. With that said, the school is accommodating those who want a fully online learning experience can have just that.

Every member of the UConn community will be required to wear a mask in public and common spaces, including classrooms. The school said it has purchased enough masks to supply its community. If someone is unable to wear a mask, they are asked to contact the school to work something out.

As for staff, UConn is developing protocols for employee testing set to begin before the start of the semester. They will also be enforcing a “stay at home when ill” motto for both employee and students as well as general cleanliness responsibilities like washing your hands.

They are also asking students to arrive early to quarantine on campus.

“We are expecting the students to stay two weeks on campus in a quarantine situation and then classes will start end of August,” UConn spokesperson, Mike Enright, said. “The semester will end in-person at Thanksgiving, and the last two weeks and the final exams, everybody will be online.”

Some students said they are happy with the changes.

“I know that some schools are doing online completely in the fall,” said senior Taylor Welsh. “I think I would prefer self quarantine for two weeks better than online completely, so it is like pick your poison.”

However Welsh is worried it could impact her learning experience.

“[In the classroom] we could bounce ideas off each other, got through exams together, so if I didn’t have that, I don’t think I would’ve done nearly as well.”

“Going to the dining hall is always fun because you’re with your friends and you could hang out,” added senior Julia Cechini. “That will be really weird. I don’t know, it’s so hard to say. All of this is so different and new.”

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