Colleges plan for 2021-22: Many more students will be in classrooms next fall

Miami University students will return to all in-person classes to start the 2021-22 academic year, which mirrors plans by others in the region with anticipation of progress in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“As the rollout of the vaccines continues, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic and we are excited about returning to in-person classes and operations,” Miami President Gregory Crawford said last week.

Crawford said that the university hopes to be able to offer all faculty and staff the opportunity to be vaccinated by the end of July.

The move was similar to others in the region, with campus leaders saying they are both confident in the impact of the vaccine rollout and improvements from lessons learned while holding at least some in-person classes this academic year.

According to a New York Times tracker of U.S. college and university COVID-19 data, there have been more than 535,000 cases at those institutions since the pandemic began. In Ohio, that included 24,940 cases at 62 schools.

Miami recorded 2,893 cases in all, but just 307 in 2021, according to the tracker, which was last updated Tuesday. Ohio State led Ohio schools with 7,153 cases, including 1,331 so far in 2021. There have been 2,067 cases at the University of Cincinnati and 46 at Xavier University in he region.

Xavier announced last week that it would be at “mostly normal operations” for the start of the fall semester. UC will have more in-person learning beginning in the fall, with more details to be released later.

“We are simply better in-person,” Xavier President Fr. Michael Graham said in a statement. “We proved that we could hold classes and live on campus during this academic year.

At Ohio State, officials plan to return to in-person classes and activities and students living on campus, with more details to be released later.

“We have learned from our success in keeping our campuses operating safely over the last six months, creating the opportunity to broaden face-to-face interactions for students, faculty and staff,” Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson said.

Miami’s Oxford campus has seen about half the usual 8,000 residence hall students this school year and many of those take a combination of online and in-person classes. Thousands of Miami students have been taking all on-line classes from their homes off campus.

That all-virtual learning option will not be available in the fall for Oxford campus but will continue at the regionals.

“For Oxford undergraduate students, this means most of their instruction will be face-to-face. While there might be some remote components of classes, the university does not plan to offer a fully remote option,” said officials.

“Regional campus students will have access to a full complement of in-person classes and activities and will continue to have access to Miami’s nationally ranked online bachelor’s programs. In addition to regular in-person courses and activities, Miami graduate students will have access to newly launched online degree programs.”

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