Virginia Commonwealth University will continue to offer online classes next spring with coronavirus safeguards remaining in place, the school announced Thursday.
College presidents across the country, including VCU President Michael Rao, have said they expect the changes enacted to classes and student life to last through the next semester. Dormitories are below capacity, visitors are limited and large gatherings have been banned.
“Our highest priority in executing our mission is the safety of our students, faculty, staff and surrounding community,” Rao said in a statement. “Flexibility remains critical in addressing evolving situations presented by COVID-19, including changes in the prevalence of infection in our community, as well as changes in requirements, guidelines and best practices.”
There will be no spring break, and students will return to campus in phases in January. VCU will start its spring semester Jan. 25 and end May 5 for the students on the Monroe Park Campus and May 7 on the MCV Campus.
This semester, 53% of VCU’s courses are online or partially online.
Freshman enrollment at VCU is down 14%, though statewide, total college enrollment among four-year schools shrank only 1%. Schools depend on the revenue from room and board, and with fewer students living in dorms, colleges are facing an added financial crunch.
Universities in Virginia are projecting a combined $245 million loss in the first six months of the 2021 fiscal year, which began July 1, Rao said.
On Thursday, VCU reported on its online dashboard that the school had 23 active cases and a total of 315 cases among students, faculty and staff since the pandemic began. Three percent of the school’s 162 isolation beds are in use.