US Universities: In-Pandemic Plans for 2021


Scores of colleges and universities in the US entered fall and winter semesters and upended their schedules as the pandemic continued its spread. After an uncertain start to the fall, a rocky academic routine over the next few months, it seems like the academic community has successfully got used to a brand-new environment and all the aspects of day-to-day life.

Each educational institution seems to get accustomed to the masks and distancing. And as those become an indispensable part of our life, colleges and universities dare build plans for the future, adjusting to the new reality. Since a lot of colleges and universities share many things in common now, each school has its own plans for the upcoming year.

What Best US Universities Plan to Do in 2021

According to the annual ranking of the best US universities and colleges, U.S. News provides a list of the institutions each weighted differently based on six categories, such as alumni giving (3%), undergrads excellence (7%), financial resources (10%), expert opinion (20%), teaching resources (20%), and student outcomes (40%). This year’s top universities include prestigious institutes – the top five members of the Ivy League. Let’s see how the schools are going to function during the upcoming year.

COVID-19: Best US Universities Plan to Do in 2021

Princeton University

The institution has provided students with an opportunity to get back to campus for one semester. At the same time, most classes are available online only. Plus, Princeton has approved a 10% reduction in tuition to every student for the 2020-21 academic year.

Harvard University

The private Ivy League research university will conduct the 2021 school year remotely. All undergraduates will learn online, whether they live on campus.

Columbia University

The university is going to have a three-term cycle for the 2021 academic year. Classes for the spring term 2021 will begin on January 11 while classes for summer will start on May 3.

Pennsylvania State University

At Pennsylvania State University, the spring semester of 2021 will start in January. The academic plan includes the elimination of spring break, all today’s courses’ modes (including in-person). Besides, the semester will end by April 30.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the region, the institutions canceled all athletics competitions for the winter sports season 2021.

Schools with Mixed System

According to a New York Times survey of more than 1,700 US institutions, including every private school and four-year public institution, over 252,000 cases and at least 80 deaths were registered since the pandemic began. For that reason, many US colleges and universities have proposed blended learning – a mix of face-to-face and online delivery – to provide undergrads with an effective learning environment and save them from the risk of infection.

Stanford University

Only half the students got back to Stanford in the fall quarter, while the other half has college classes remotely. As for the spring semester, the on-campus and remote undergrads will switch.

UC Berkeley

The school informs that the spring semester will be similar to the classes of the fall semester. The spring semester will start with online delivery of instruction for at least two weeks. This will provide students with an opportunity to get back to campus for 7-10 days. After that, most classes will keep on to be delivered remotely.

Boston University

At its news site BU Today, the school informs that students will get back to classes only as late as 2021. In general, the spring 2021 academic calendar includes two main changes. First, spring semester classes will start on January 25, 2021 (Monday) rather than January 19 (Tuesday). Second, in spring, there will be no spring break recess. BU hopes to welcome more undergrads back to campus in the spring semester; however, they will keep on providing students with an opportunity to learn online if they can’t do that in person.

Georgia State University

To meet all the quarantine requirements, most classes will be held remotely or in a blended format in the spring semester. School authorities promise potential pathways for offline classes for the programs that benefit from face-to-face delivery or those undergrads who are in need of this modality.

Colorado State University

All classes will continue to be delivered through a mix of offline and online courses.

Indiana University

On January 19, the spring semester will start with online-only classes. On February 8, it will resume in-person instruction. The spring semester will run, up to May 9. There will be no spring break.

Houston Community College

The plans for next year include a creative mix of face-to-face and online classes.

North Carolina State University

According to the spring 2021 calendar, the university offers a mix of online, hybrid, and face-to-face classes for graduate and undergraduate students. All undergrads will be provided with the option of on-campus living in the rooms of single occupancy at reduced capacity.

Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College confirms that it will continue to deliver most courses in online, blended, and in-person formats.

Rutgers University

The key goal of the institution is to provide academic activities and services in person. However, most of their work will remain predominantly in remote mode.

Ohio State University

Ohio State campuses will mostly operate a mix of in-person, online, and blended teaching. The first week of classes will be virtual. Thus, all the members of the university community will have enough time to quarantine before face-to-face courses.

San Diego State University

In spring 2021, SDSU will go on with the current practice of allowing certain in-person classes for academic courses that have very specific requirements to do so. At the same time, most coursework will be primarily delivered virtually.

Temple University

Temple University has announced its plans for the spring semester of 2021. In particular, they are going to deliver their classes mainly remotely. However, there will be a range of courses offered face-to-face or in a mixed format.

Texas Tech University

The school plans to continue with hybrid, face-to-face, and online classes’ modalities The spring semester will start on January 20, 2021 (Wednesday) while the spring break will be reduced from a week to one day.

Tarrant County College District

Tarrant County College will continue its online courses for the Spring 2021 term. For the classes requiring in-person instruction, the school will keep on adhering to safety guidelines to guarantee a safe academic environment.

University of Colorado

The spring semester will start on January 14. The classes will be delivered in-person, remotely, and in hybrid mode. There will be no spring break. It will be replaced with a later start and two wellness days on February 17 and March 25.

The University of Texas at Arlington

For the spring semester, the institution is offering online, face-to-face, and hybrid courses.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The classes of the spring semester 2021 will start on January 19 (Tuesday). The instruction will be offered online through January 22 (Friday). Hybrid and face-to-face classes will start on January 25 (Monday) and continue through to the end of the spring semester.

New York University

The school authorities will continue to deliver all classes based on flexibility and safety. Academic courses will continue to be a mix of online, blended, and face-to-face classes.

University of Nevada (Las Vegas)

Due to the ongoing pandemic, all university departments will work remotely and in-person. The courses will be held similar to that of the fall semester of 2020.

University of South Carolina (Columbia)

According to the spring academic schedule, the school will continue face-to-face classes while remote courses will be provided for those who remain away from the campus. Besides, the university won’t have a traditional spring break. It will be replaced with an equivalent number of “wellness days” that will be spread throughout the academic semester.

The University of Texas at (Austin)

The university offers hybrid learning options, various online course offerings, and face-to-face classes. The spring schedule will remain similar to the fall calendar, with spring break and other on-campus events happening at the same time they have occurred previously.

University of Wisconsin (Madison)

The university is going to lengthen winter break and eliminate spring break in 2021.  The spring semester will start from January 19 to January 25. The courses will likely be held in-person and online throughout the academic year.

Utah Valley University

Online courses will function as usual – all classes will be offered in three different forms — live-stream, face-to-face, and online. University classes will be live-streamed to your home or any other place where you stay. In-person classes will rotate between live-stream and attending in person. The rotation will depend on students’ birthdays – odd and even days. For instance, February 13 is odd, and February 14 is even. The students with even-numbered birthdays will have in-person classes on Monday and Tuesday while odd-numbered birthdays will attend college on Wednesday and Thursday.

Virginia Commonwealth University

The institution has announced that there would be no spring break. The majority of classes will be delivered remotely with fewer students remaining on campus.

Lone Star College

The institution offers an academic schedule for the spring semester of 2021 with 25% in-person, 25% hybrid, and 50% remote modes.

Austin Community College District

Most classes will be delivered remotely while most employees will keep on working online. However, the institution will gradually include hybrid options for the classes that require in-person components.

US Institution with Face-To-Face Teaching System

Coronavirus (Covid-19): US Institution with Face-To-Face Teaching System

Although COVID-19 pushes most colleges and universities to switch to online classes, some institutions plan to deliver face-to-face courses to a limited number of undergrads. Taking into account academic experience this fall, most institutions will switch to a mixed system of teaching.

University of Arizona

The fall semester began in August at the University of Arizona. More than 6,200 undergrads were attending fine arts courses and labs in-person. However, the institution plans to re-open more classrooms

Broward College

The institution has decided to continue offering most 2021 spring courses online to prioritize safety on campus. Nevertheless, the percentage of courses delivered on campus will be increased. 70 classrooms will be available.

Brigham Young University

As stated by the BYU leaders, the institution is planning for an in-person semester in 2021 if the coronavirus doesn’t worsen.

Florida International University

The institution remains open for the spring semester of 2021. Students are welcome to arrive at a campus in January when the regular semester starts.

Florida State University

At Florida State University, the semester will start on January 6, 2021 (Wednesday). However, the first three days of classes will be delivered online. Also, the institution has canceled the spring break, which means the semester will end on April 23, 2021 (Friday).

Michigan State University

The spring semester for Michigan State University will start on January 11, 2021. The institution will provide more than 2,500 additional residence hall spaces of single-occupancy for college students who prefer staying on campus. Besides, the school plans to deliver more in-person classes, focusing on the ones that undergrads need to graduate on time.

Liberty University

Liberty University announced that all undergrads would start the spring semester of 2021 by quarantining in their dorms and briefly taking classes remotely.

Louisiana State University

According to the information provided at the website of the institution, the Spring and Mardi Gras breaks are canceled. Besides, the courses will be delivered in a combination of online, in-person, and hybrid coursework. However, for the spring semester of 2021, the institution is planning to ease the restrictions for student events and gatherings.

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University plans to reintroduce face-to-face classes for the spring semester of 2021.

Oregon State University

As the university plans for the spring term, they will provide increased in-person courses, extra-curricular and experiential study options for undergrads.

Purdue University

College undergrads who cannot or choose not to come to the university campus for the spring semester are provided with an opportunity to study remotely. The campus will also offer hybrid options.

Texas A & M University

The institution plans to be fully open and operational for the upcoming spring semester of 2021.

University of Alabama

For the spring semester of 2021, the University of Alabama will continue on-campus residence while classes will be delivered in-person. Remote options will be available as well for the undergrads who need to self-isolate.

University of Florida

The university announces that they exert every effort to increase the amount of in-person classes for the upcoming semester of 2021.

University of Georgia

For the spring semester of 2021, the university plans to increase the number of face-to-face courses.

University of Iowa

According to the information provided by the university authorities, the University of Iowa will cancel the spring break, as well as delay the start of the spring semester 2021.  Most classes will be delivered in the same manner as during the fall semester when 80% of undergraduate hours were conducted virtually.

University of South Florida

The institution plans to deliver a robust and comprehensive class schedule that includes expanded in-person and hybrid courses on-campus together with quality online study sessions.

University of Central Florida

When it comes to the spring semester, the University of Central Florida is going to deliver more in-person classes than they have during the fall semester.

University of Utah

The University of Utah informed us of a one-week extension of winter break while the spring break will be canceled. The students will have a two-week online instruction period that will replace the spring break.

Top Colleges and Universities Operating Online

Coronavirus pandemic: Top Colleges and Universities Operating Online

Now, as the spring semester 2021 approaches, the status of college and university courses is constantly shifting. On that ground, a lot of undergrads switch to the institutions that function remotely. Below, we have listed the schools that have made their decisions regarding in-person classes. Some colleges and universities mentioned in this section operate face-to-face; however, in the spring semester of 2021, they are going to deliver courses virtually.

Ashford University

Ashford University is a completely online institution. Students can earn all degrees entirely through distance learning. Since the university calendar is non-term (also known as continuous), there’s no spring or summer break.

Northern Virginia Community College

According to the message from the president’s office, all classes at Northern Virginia Community College will remain largely remote for the spring semester.

California State University

CSU Chancellor announces that the spring term begins in January 2021. 23 campuses will remain virtual for the spring semester of 2021. In general, 116 California community colleges will function in the online setting.

Capella University

100% of Capella students are taking classes online. Due to the global pandemic, the institution keeps on supporting online learning.

Purdue Global

Purdue Global offers you an opportunity to gain a world-class education that is tailored to your unique needs and requests. Now students can earn a degree from an accredited online institution from the comfort of their homes.

Santa Monica College

Students’ safety and health is the highest priority of the institution. For that reason, all the classes will be offered online for the winter and spring semesters of 2021. The only exception is practicum/lab instruction tools provided in-person according to the existing Los Angeles County Public Health guidelines, in the fields of Respiratory Care and Nursing.

Southern New Hampshire University

Due to the pandemic spread and the guidelines provided by local, federal, and state officials, Southern New Hampshire University will be continuing with mostly online classes in the spring semester of 2021.

University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts will deliver most classes remotely. However, first-year students and undergrads in certain classes, studios, and labs that require in-person instruction will be offered on-campus courses.

University of Southern California

The institution will offer in-person and hybrid modalities, while the majority of academic courses will remain online. Hybrid (the system combines in-person and online activities) and in-person courses will primarily be the ones that require lab or studio equipment and space.

Valencia College

Most classes will be available remotely, while all support services will be online with extended hours.

Walden University

With 50 years of proven experience in remote education, Walden University offers some great options for undergraduates seeking the safest academic options.

American River College

In 2021, the spring semester will operate online. Notable exceptions are academic programs provided to train first responders or individuals in the fields that have a significant safety and health impact on the local community.

Yale University

According to the Yale College Spring 2021 Calendar, undergrads will move into on-campus dorms on specified days in late January. Undergrads will have to take a pre-arrival test and quarantine protocols as required by the school and the State of Connecticut.

From what we can read in an article written by Eric Kelderman “Spring Planning Has Begun. Here’s What Colleges Are Thinking So Far”, it seems like US colleges and universities are planning the same strategies for the spring semester as they did for this fall.

As for the incoming first-year students moving to a brand-new environment this spring, they will get a double dose. Together with learning how to study for classes, tests, and exams, navigating the campus area, and becoming familiar with student life, freshmen will also have to adapt to wearing masks, social distancing, and quarantining to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus. Given that there is no vaccine available at the moment, the institutions that have brought their undergrads back to campus must be watchful and responsible in their observation, testing, and implementation of everyday in-pandemic practices to keep their environment safe.

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Author: Patricia Jenkins

Patricia Jenkins is the senior writing advisor at FastEssay blog for international students that seek quick paper assistance. In her blog, Patricia shares useful tips on productivity, writing, research, references. Sometimes Patricia goes off topic by sharing her personal experience peppered with lively humor and healthy irony.