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Lafayette College, located in Easton, PA, recently changed its fall plan from hybrid to online-only. (Photo by Tomwsulcer | CC0 1.0)

Some colleges in the United States are reversing their initial fall decisions as coronavirus cases surge in various states. Penn, however, has stayed quiet since its previous announcement inviting all students and faculty back to campus for the fall.  

Currently, the University is planning for the upcoming semester to begin on Sept. 1 under a hybrid model of instruction, with in-person operations ending on Nov. 20 and final exams conducted remotely. On-campus housing is guaranteed for first years, sophomores, and transfers only, and all students will have single bedrooms. Students who prefer not to return to campus will be able to complete their coursework entirely online.

University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy declined to say whether Penn is considering a change to a fully online semester or not.

“If there are any changes to details about the fall semester, we will announce them when they are known,” MacCarthy wrote in a July 27 email to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

New daily coronavirus cases are rising in more than 40 states, including in Pennsylvania, and more than 4.3 million Americans have been infected with the virus. Some colleges near Penn have recently changed their fall plans, opting for a predominantly virtual semester with limited on-campus housing.

The University of Delaware announced in late June that it would invite students back to campus for a mix of in-person and online courses. On July 22, however, the school’s administration announced that only select courses that require face-to-face interaction will meet in person. On-campus housing will be limited to certain members of the community, with priority given to students who have an in-person class or some other kind of academic requirement, such as student teaching or clinicals.

Lafayette College, located just 75 miles outside of Philadelphia, announced in mid-June that fall classes would start two weeks early and be conducted in a hybrid model. The College changed course nearly one month later, announcing that all fall semester courses will be conducted online and that the majority of students will study from home, except for permitted international students and those who need access to campus resources. 

George Washington University in Washington, D.C. originally planned to operate under a hybrid model. The school later announced on July 27 that courses would be conducted exclusively online. 

No Ivy League schools have reversed their plans for the fall semester. Only Penn and Cornell University, however, are inviting all students back to campus. All Ivy League schools except Harvard University, which will be completely online, will have a hybrid mode of instruction.

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