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Universities in Utah plan for in-person and online classes in the fall

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Universities and colleges in Utah are getting ready to register students for fall classes and finalizing plans for either in-person or online class options. (KUTV)

Universities and colleges in Utah are getting ready to register students for fall classes and finalizing plans for either in-person or online class options.

2News reached out to several universities. Most say they plan to add more in-person options, but the plans will vary from school to school.

“I would like the university to know we are all dying to be on campus,” said University of Utah sophomore Sophia Gulgulian, who, like most other students, spends hours at the computer every day for online classes.

University of Utah spokesman Chris Nelson said there is no chance the U will offer all classes on campus this fall, but the goal is to increase on-campus instruction.

Currently at the U, 20% of classes are offered on campus. For fall semester, the goal is to offer 30 to 50 percent of classes in person.

That could change slightly depending on the number of students and faculty who are vaccinated by fall, Nelson said. College faculty are not in a priority vaccination group like K-12 teachers.

2News reached out to several universities about their fall plans. All the schools indicated plans for fall aren’t final and will likely change slightly depending on COVID cases and vaccinations. Here’s what their spokespersons reported:

At Weber State University, 30% of classes are fully or partially in person. The school expects to be “mostly back to normal” in the fall.

At Dixie State University, the goal is to hold as many in person classes as possible by fall. Currently, 64 out of 243 full-time faculty are teaching remotely.

Utah State University administrators hope to offer more in-person learning options in the fall. Information will be made public in the coming weeks, officials said. Currently, 40% of classes are face-to-face to some degree, 42% are online, and 18% are via broadcast at USU.

The U is about to post the fall class schedule on March 15 and begin registration on April 12.

For some students, like Anna Drossos, a sophomore at the U, the decision to register for classes is more complicated.

Drossos, a biology major, is taking her online college courses at her family’s home in Ohio. Her family moved to Ohio during her freshman year. When the pandemic shut down campuses, she moved to be with her family.

If she continues with the University of Utah and most of her classes are online in the fall, she’ll stay in Ohio, as renting an apartment in Salt Lake might be too expensive.

Drossos understands the university must be cautious in reopening. She said she’d like to see the U do more to address the mental health of students who’ve been isolated and stressed over the past year.

“Students are working as hard as they can, but I believe anxiety, stress and mental health issues are not being addressed in full. I would like them (the U) to address that," Drossos said.

Nelson said the student counseling center remains open for virtual appointments, as do other services on campus. He said for fall, the U plans to allow more activities on campus.

“I think we are optimistic we will be able to return to smaller group gatherings, which is so important for students and their mental health," he said.