University of Colorado Boulder will start the spring semester on Jan. 14 with all remote classes for at least a month and will not host an in-person spring commencement ceremony, Chancellor Phil DiStefano announced in a letter to campus today.
Current coronavirus projections, advice from health officials, restrictions on events and the uncertainty of when it will be safe to hold gatherings all point to delaying in-person classes and hosting a virtual commencement ceremony, DiStefano wrote. Classes were previously set to begin with a mix of online and in-person learning on Jan. 14.
“In consultation with state and local health officials, we need to delay our in-person opportunities until cases decrease and we can provide a safer and more positive on-campus experience,” DiStefano wrote. “We will do our best to avoid the back-and-forth shifts that created uncertainty for our campus community in the fall. We didn’t arrive at the commencement decision lightly, but firmly believe it’s the right call.”
Residence hall move-in will be delayed and students will have their room and board costs reduced as a result, DiStefano wrote.
“Additionally, we ask everyone with the flexibility to remain in your permanent-home communities to delay your travel to Boulder until our return to in-person courses. This will help reduce the risk of travel-related COVID-19 transmission,” he wrote.
Faculty and staff should work remotely whenever possible, DiStefano wrote, while “existing research and innovation activities — as well as related graduate student research — will continue in person via the existing campus protocols.”
DiStefano pledged to give weekly updates, opportunities to provide feedback and clear communication when the semester begins. The campus coronavirus monitoring program will remain available for all students, faculty and staff.
“We are all tired of the pandemic-related changes and disruptions to our CU Boulder experience and to our day-to-day lives,” DiStefano wrote. “But we need to hang on and continue to meet these challenges as a community. With the distribution of new vaccines on the horizon, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, though it will take time yet for us to get there. We are reaching the culmination of a truly challenging period, and I am grateful to you for your perseverance.”
DiStefano will host a campus question and answer session at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday about the changes.
This is a developing story and will be updated.