Updated as of May 4, 2021 at 7:11 p.m. to include information from Jeff Stein, chair of the Ready & Resilient committee.
The Ready & Resilient committee released recommendations for the summer and fall of 2021, looking to ease many COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and to return to in-person classes following the traditional academic calendar.
There are recommendations for low-risk scenarios as the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow and vaccination rates increase, as well as high-risk scenarios if conditions were to worsen before the summer and fall semesters.
Jeff Stein, chair of the Ready & Resilient committee, wrote in an email to Elon News Network that the university anticipates returning to in-person learning only in the fall.
“We expect that vaccinations and other public health measures will allow for face-to-face classroom experience in [f]all 2021 that includes masking and reduced distancing per WHO and other health guidelines,” Stein wrote.
According to the 2021-22 academic calendar, the fall semester will have both fall break, from Oct. 13 through 18, and Thanksgiving break, which will take place from Nov. 19 through 29.
The recommendations also include revisiting and updating the attendance policy. The current attendance policy states that attendance policies are created individually by schools, faculty and departments.
Junior Katie Murphy said part of why she loves Elon is seeing and working with other people on hands-on projects, and she hopes returning to the classroom next semester will allow her to do that.
“I'm much less worried about COVID after everyone has been vaccinated, so honestly, I don't see any concerns with going back to in person,” Murphy said. “I just missed seeing my friends and seeing people in classes.”
According to the recommendations, arrival testing will continue for all faculty, staff and students, as well as testing for all who are not vaccinated, who have symptoms or who are close personal contacts. The university will continue to encourage students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated, which could be in the form of a student vaccination requirement, according to the recommendations.
If the university decides to require students to receive the vaccine before the fall semester, it will join four other institutions in the state of North Carolina to do so as of May 4, according to a survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Only 209 campuses across the country so far are requiring students to be vaccinated.
The recommendations also state that physical distancing and mask policies will be guided by public health guidelines. Apartments and residence halls will return to full capacity, and events such as orientation, Family Weekend, convocation and athletic and cultural events will also begin to take place in person.
This is a developing story.