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Utah colleges, universities plan for return to in-person instruction

Posted at 9:50 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 23:50:03-05

Utah’s higher learning institutions are starting to prepare for more in-person learning in the fall.

Both the University of Utah and Utah State University have pushed back publishing class schedules in order to prepare.

“Our university has been transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and students and faculty have shown incredible patience and adaptability,” University of Utah registrar Tim Ebner said in a statement. “We’re very hopeful that fall semester can be much closer to what higher education was before the coronavirus.”

On top of scheduling for more classes, Utah State University just announced plans to hold in-person graduation with two guests allowed per graduate this year.

“I think there is this feeling of hope that comes with this announcement… and it's not just that hope of what’s after college,” said Heidi Kesler , the director of student retention and completion. “But also this feeling of hope that we are able to come together again.”

Brigham Young University hasn't decided anything yet.

"We are hopeful for a more standard in-person fall semester… we haven’t made a decision there,” BYU spokeswoman Natalie Ipson told FOX 13 Friday. “We are very optimistic.”

BYU says in the meantime, they will focus on their efforts on helping the pandemic response, such as developing and improving new masks, socially distant Bluetooth headphones, and helping the state with wastewater testing.

The Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) is working with the 16 universities and colleges under them (including USU and U of U) to get back to 75 percent of pre-pandemic levels for in-person learning as requested by the state legislature.

“We want to get to a point where we feel like there is no difference in the quality of education before the pandemic and the quality of the education they're getting now,” USHE deputy commissioner Geoff Landward told FOX 13.

All of this comes one year to the day of Utah announcing that students would immediately go to online learning in the wake of several new cases reported — just under a week after the State of Emergency in Utah was first issued.

Landward, in disbelief that it had already been a year, said they had to "suddenly scramble and figure out how to move an entire system of higher education" when that happened.