Indiana University plans for in-person fall 2021 semester, return to ‘mostly normal’


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University’s 2021 fall semester will be in person on all IU campuses, IU President Michael A. McRobbie announced Wednesday.

McRobbie added that the university expects the fall semester will return to mostly normal operations.

“This decision has been made on the basis of advice from IU’s medical and public health experts who have been leading the university’s comprehensive and successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly a year now,” McRobbie said in a release. “It has also been made possible because of the dedicated, determined and creative actions of our students, faculty and staff, to whom we are deeply grateful.”

University officials say that while the fall of 2021 may not look exactly like pre-pandemic semesters, it won’t be like fall 2020. IU will likely continue to have some health and safety precautions in place, but the state of the pandemic and how much of the IU community is fully vaccinated will greatly impact health practices.

“As we have learned from the experience of the past year, in the face of this deadly pandemic we cannot set any of our plans in stone,” McRobbie said. “As long as the pandemic is with us, we must be ready to adjust course rapidly, and we will constantly review our plans, activities and operations.

“However, because of the outstanding efforts of the entire IU community on all campuses across the state in successfully battling the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year, I am very confident that we will see a successful return to mostly normal university operations in the fall.”

The university says it implemented a number of health and safety policies to safely allow as many on-campus activities as possible throughout the 2020-21 academic year. IU noted that positivity rates have continued to fall and have recently been below 1% in part because of these policies.

IU says ongoing mitigation testing of students, faculty and staff has played a major role in enabling the university to manage COVID-19 on campus, with tens of thousands of tests completed each week. IU strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible.

“Having the vast majority of the IU community vaccinated against COVID-19 will be one of the keys to allowing an increase in in-person courses and activities on campuses this fall,” said Aaron Carroll, director of mitigation testing; and associate dean for research mentoring and distinguished professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine. “All of the vaccines currently available are highly effective. Plus, our testing data continues to show very manageable levels of COVID-19 on our campuses. We are optimistic that should the current trends continue, we’ll be back on campus together this fall.”

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