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University of Nebraska-Omaha to return to traditional semester in the fall

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 5:25 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - More students and staff will return to UNO’s campus in the fall, and university leaders are planning out how to keep everyone safe.

Dr. Jeffrey Gold, chancellor of UNO, said Monday that the decision to return to in-person activities was based on the latest COVID-19 data in the community.

Some of the changes for the fall semester include increasing classroom sizes; that way, more students can be in class and still socially distance, he said.

At this point, students and staff aren’t required to be vaccinated, but it is encouraged. Dr. Gold said that decision may be revisited as the COVID-19 vaccines earn more official approvals beyond the FDA emergency use authorization.

For now, though, masks will likely still be required.

“It’s going to be determined by the number of cases transmitted per day per 100,00 population — not on campus, but in the community. Our campus spread is pretty much zero,” Dr. Gold said.

He said the mask requirement won’t likely be lifted until community spread is lower — or until the community reaches herd immunity.

UNO leaders said Monday that right now, the plans are to offer about two-thirds of classes for in-person learning.

Nearly 60% of students have already enrolled for the fall, and university leaders say they’ll adjust as more students decide to learn in-person on campus.

“We are really working to have more in-person classes this fall,” said Sacha Kopp, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We’ve already seen a doubling of enrollment of in-person classes in relation to the current semester, so we’re working to have all the capacity necessary we’re just moving to larger rooms so as to be able to enact the current CDC guidance which is three-foot distance in the classroom.”

UNO officials said that as the fall semester gets closer, they will be planning for the best, but preparing to be flexible.

Watch Monday’s news conference

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