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U of U to shut down on-campus learning, move to online for 2 weeks starting Sunday

University officials call move a COVID-19 "circuit breaker" ahead of VP debate
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Posted at 9:54 AM, Sep 21, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — Beginning Monday, the University of Utah will move all classes online for two weeks.

University administration planned for online courses the week of the Vice Presidential debate but are extending it for one more week during a new surge of COVID-19 in Utah.

Outside Kingsbury Hall, risers for the national press go up just over two weeks before the only Vice Presidential debate on Oct. 7.

There is still a lot left to do, include shoring up security and a dress rehearsal with student stand-ins for Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris.

“There is a buzz… It’s like a mini Olympics, is what it feels like. Feels like 2002 all over again,” said University of Utah spokesperson Christ Nelson said.

With so much is going on, University administration planned to move all classes away from campus during debate week anyway.

“The timing is perfect right now for us to go online,” said Nelson.

Now, with a surge in COVID cases among college-age students, university administration believe two weeks online will help slow the spread.

“I think it is a really good idea, it’s a good way to give two weeks of quarantine for everybody, just be like, stay home. Don’t worry about coming to school,” said student Tessa Dudden

The university’s current positive case count is 110. At the U, an estimated 32,000 people still come to campus with fewer than a quarter of classes held in-person.

"Everything is already prepared to go online at minimum notice so I don’t think it will be a huge deal,” said student Stephanie Hawkins.

The switch to online learning is not considered a break, and administration asks students stay in Salt Lake and not travel.

In-person classes will resume October 12.