Johns Hopkins University plans to return some undergraduate and graduate students to campus this spring for in-person classes and residential living.
Johns Hopkins was among a number of Baltimore-area colleges and universities that switched to online classes this fall in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan is tentative, with university officials pledging to monitor local and national public health trends and make a final determination by January about whether pandemic conditions will allow them to proceed. Full details about the spring plans will be provided in early December.
“We are preparing with hope and confidence,” according to an email sent Monday and signed by Hopkins President Ronald Daniels and other administrators.
Undergraduate students who opt to return to campus for in-person classes and research activities must agree to take a COVID-19 test twice a week. Students who do not wish to return to campus can continue taking classes remotely, officials said in a statement.
Most of the university’s graduate divisions also plan to resume on-campus activities. Testing will be required at least once weekly for faculty, staff and graduate students who are involved with in-person classes or who are regularly exposed to undergraduates, officials said in the email.
University leaders expect about 1,200 undergraduates to return to campus in the spring, adding to the approximately 2,000 students living in surrounding neighborhoods such as Charles Village.
Officials say transmission rates of COVID-19 have been low among the small number of students who remained on or near campus this fall.
“To date we have experienced no significant outbreaks among our students in Baltimore, or transmissions among staff in our reopened research labs,” officials said in the statement.
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The plan will prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people on campus and for students living off campus.
The university will reduce the density of campus residences to single occupancy bedrooms with limited sharing of bathroom facilities. All first-year students who choose to come to campus must live in the dorms.
Officials also said they were optimistic that they can house second-year students who expressed in a recent survey interest in campus housing. Second-year students who wish to live off campus may do so, according to the announcement.
University leaders plan to set aside a “substantial” number of quarantine and isolation accommodations for any student who needs them.
Officials say the plan for the spring semester modifies the academic calendar to remove spring break, citing public health concerns associated with travel. Classes will begin on Jan. 25 as planned, but the weeklong spring break originally scheduled for March 22–26 will be replaced with five break days throughout the semester.
Staff needed to support in-person research and academic activities will be expected to return. Department-specific plans for staff are being developed, the email states.
University leaders are asking the campus community to submit feedback and questions about the plan through an online feedback portal and during a Nov. 9 town hall at 11:30 a.m. An additional town hall focused on undergraduates will be held at 4 p.m. Nov. 4.