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UNR plans some in-person classes for spring semester

Updated October 26, 2020 - 5:14 pm

University of Nevada, Reno plans to offer some in-person classes for the spring semester, but those with 35 or more students will be taught online.

UNR President Brian Sandoval outlined the format for spring classes in two messages Thursday — one to faculty and staff and one to students. It comes after the university announced this month that all classes after Thanksgiving break will switch to remote instruction for the rest of the fall semester amid rising COVID-19 case numbers.

“The past two weeks have seen the University make major decisions that impact you, our students, in significant ways,” Sandoval wrote in the message to students. “In the short time I’ve been on campus, you’ve shown an incredible generosity of spirit. With so many major decisions of late, I want to reassure you that the University is also working to find safe, creative and meaningful ways to keep the life of the campus connected with all of you.”

Since the pandemic began, UNR has reported 712 COVID-19 cases among students and 52 among faculty/staff — a significantly larger number than its Southern Nevada college and university counterparts. The university is reporting case numbers on its website, but that doesn’t mean those who tested positive contracted the virus while on campus.

Campus facilities will remain open while remote instruction is underway after Thanksgiving, “though perhaps with reduced hours,” Sandoval wrote in his message to employees last week, and research operations will continue. Students will be asked to move out of residence halls unless they cannot because of a hardship.

“Wintermester” classes, which run from Dec. 28 to Jan. 15, will be offered entirely online, Sandoval wrote. Then, the spring semester will start Jan. 25, a week later than originally scheduled, and spring break will be canceled.

The Wiegand Fitness Center — which closed this month after 60 COVID-19 cases were traced back to the facility — could reopen in phases when the spring semester begins, Sandoval wrote.

“The reopening will be dependent on students making positive decisions on and off our campus, as well as the latest public health data,” he said.

UNLV, the College of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College are planning to offer the vast majority of their classes for the spring semester remotely — a similar mix to what’s currently in place for the fall semester.

UNLV announced Monday it plans to keep its current calendar in place, including Thanksgiving and spring breaks. And the university isn’t planning to make changes to its modes of instruction for the rest of fall semester.

“Please keep in mind that conditions may change, such that the university may shift to remote instruction for all courses, depending on the pandemic,” Interim Executive Vice President/Provost Chris Heavey said in a message to students. “We will continue to keep you informed as the spring semester nears.”

The university is planning a student town hall meeting from 3-4:30 p.m. Nov. 17.

Registration opens Nov. 2 for spring semester. UNLV didn’t charge a $34 per credit distance education fee during the summer and fall semesters when classes originally scheduled as in-person changed to remote instruction due to the pandemic. But for spring semester, students will have to pay the fee for classes scheduled for remote asynchronous instruction — those that don’t have a scheduled meeting time.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.