UPDATE: WSU President Jay Golden announced Thursday evening that the university will propose a 2% tuition increase next year, promising no increases to student fees.
Wichita State University on Thursday announced more changes to its fall schedule in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus on campus next semester.
The university will cancel the traditional Fall Break in October and start Thanksgiving Break two days early on Monday, Nov. 23, according to a Thursday email sent to faculty. After Thanksgiving, students will not return to campus and will complete the rest of the semester online or by remote.
The length of the semester remains unchanged, beginning Aug. 17 and ending Dec. 10.
“I understand that this may be of some disappointment to those of you who look forward to [Fall Break] as an opportunity to reset and recharge,” Provost Rick Muma said Thursday in the email to faculty.
Muma said the changes would help prevent students from bringing the coronavirus back to campus if they travel out of state.
“Please know that this decision was made with the health, safety and well-being of our entire campus community in mind,” he said.
With the changes, WSU’s fall semester is set to somewhat resemble the spring, during which students left for Spring Break in March and ultimately finished the semester online.
WSU announced last week that all in-person courses this fall are transitioning to hybrid instruction, which the university said will make it easier to go fully online. Instructors are reconstructing their courses to include a mix of online group instruction, individual learning and in-person instruction.
If in-person instruction resumes this fall as planned, classrooms will be set up to allow 6-foot social distancing at all times, and Facilities Services will clean classrooms and other common areas daily.
All in-person instruction this fall must be completed by Nov. 20, the email says. The last four days of instruction, study period and final exams will be finished online.
Though summer classes are fully online starting next week, WSU entered Phase II of its plan to reopen campus on Tuesday.
People are required to wear masks when meeting with others on campus and gatherings are currently limited to 15 people, based on state guidelines. Campus buildings and services, like the Ablah Library, are opening back up with limited hours.
Phase III begins in August, in time for the first day of fall courses. The third and final phase will include most of the key precautions in Phase II, such as the mask policy.
The university plans to adapt its traditional fall events to be safer or partially online but won’t necessarily have to cancel them, Muma said at a virtual town hall meeting this month.
He said the university is yet to make a decision about October and December commencement ceremonies.
WSU previously said it is expecting residence halls to be “pretty much at capacity” this fall and will stagger move-in days to encourage social distancing.
President Jay Golden announced Thursday that the university will only charge students for housing through the campus shutdown date on Nov. 20, unless a student chooses to stay after that date. Those who stay longer will be charged a daily rate.