Boise State, U of I outline plans for fall reopening

Boise State University and the University of Idaho are planning to reopen their campuses this fall — with modifications.

And caveats as well. As the universities respond to the ever-changing coronavirus pandemic, all plans are subject to change.

“These plans are based on the most up-to-date information we have at this time and may change depending on many factors that are largely out of our control,” Boise State administrators said Friday, outlining fall reopening plans in an email to students, faculty and staff.

“Because the landscape continues to change rapidly, we all need to be patient and flexible,” U of I President C. Scott Green wrote in a Friday email to the university community. “If we learned anything over the past three months, it is that flexibility is a key to success.”

Here’s what the reopening plans look like, at this point.

Boise State University

Boise State University President Marlene Tromp
  • Classes will be a mix: some face-to-face courses, some online courses, some hybrid courses blending the two. “In order to achieve appropriate physical distancing, small classes will be moved to larger classrooms, and large classes will either be reduced in size or relocated to large rooms in the Student Union Building (SUB) or other campus facilities.”
  • Fall classes will begin, as originally scheduled, on Aug. 24. But after Thanksgiving break, all fall classes will shift to an online model. The goal, the university says, is “to avoid a potential spike in infection rates after students, faculty and staff return from the travel often associated with school breaks.”
  • Dorms will reopen for the fall and campus dining services will open shortly before the start of the semester. But dorm residents might be subject to coronavirus testing before they leave for campus, or when they arrive in Boise. And mostly food service will be carry-out.
  • Employees could begin to return to campus the week of July 7. Before employees return to work, they could be subject to coronavirus testing, temperature checks at the start of a work shift or COVID-19 screening questionnaires.
  • Student-athletes will not be able to practice until they test negative for coronavirus. The sports schedule remains in limbo. “Although the NCAA and the Mountain West Conference have not issued final guidance, we are aware that games or competitions may be reduced, delayed by weeks or even months, may occur without spectators, or may be canceled entirely.”

University of Idaho

On Friday, Green emphasized the importance of reopening.

C. Scott Green

“It is imperative we open cautiously and safely, but with in-person, in-classroom learning as the priority,” he wrote. “We are a residential campus and providing students with the experience they expect and deserve is what will fill our classes.”

Fall semester will begin Aug. 24, with most classes held face-to-face. There will be some modifications: smaller class sizes, some classes moved into larger rooms and some hybrid courses.

Dorms and Greek housing will reopen, at reduced density. “Each area is making plans to provide students with the best possible residential experience that includes social distancing,” Green said.

The U of I will partner with Gritman Medical Center in Moscow, perhaps setting up a campus coronavirus testing facility. Another possibility: thermal scanners for high-traffic facilities and campus gatherings.

Idaho State University and Lewis-Clark State College

Idaho State expects to complete its fall reopening plan this week, spokesman Andrew Taylor said Tuesday.

Lewis-Clark has said it plans to reopen campus in the fall, but “will also be prepared to engage remote instruction, whether in whole in or in part, if the need arises.”



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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