Fall 2020 Semester to Open with Remote Instruction Only

Remote Learning to begin Fall 2020 semesterThe University of San Diego announced today that instruction for the Fall 2020 Semester will begin Aug. 17 with remote learning only.

When we announced in early May our Torero BluePrint Six-Point Plan for re-opening campus, it was our intention to open with in-person instruction as part of our overall hybrid academic model. Over the past two months, hundreds of members of our campus community have been working diligently on our plans to return on August 17. We did this in response to the overwhelming desire our students expressed to be on campus this Fall.

At the time of my original announcement, the number of daily cases of COVID-19 in San Diego County was approximately 100, and given the shut-down orders then in place, we were optimistic the situation would be much improved by the Fall. Instead, the number of daily cases skyrocketed, and San Diego is now averaging more than 400 cases per day.

Due to the continuing progression of COVID-19 and the number of confirmed cases in California and San Diego, neither the State nor the County has issued guidance for institutions of higher education to reopen this Fall. With less than a month to go before we begin Fall classes for undergraduates, we have reached the point where a final decision has to be made. Based on the information we have today and until we receive further notice, I am announcing that all undergraduate and graduate courses will be delivered in a remote learning format. We will continue to move ahead with our Fall semester start date of August 17 for undergraduate students.  Graduate schools will continue to follow their respective academic calendars.

We are Prepared to Pivot

While we are very disappointed that the spread of the pandemic resulted in this decision, our task forces have been working tirelessly over the summer to develop a flexible academic plan specifically designed for these circumstances.

The good news is that all of the great work of the task forces preparing for the Fall will benefit us as we move forward. Due to their continuing efforts, we are prepared to pivot to our planned hybrid approach of both in-person and remote instruction when conditions improve and allow us to do so. The timing for a transition to our hybrid approach will be determined by future guidance from State and County officials. When we receive the permission to move forward with our plans, we will continue to offer our students the options for remote or in-person instruction—whichever approach they believe is in their best interest. We will keep in close, weekly contact with State and County officials to monitor progress toward guidance that allows for in-person instruction. While our goal and desire was to have students join us on campus at the beginning of the Fall semester, we still remain hopeful we will be able to return to campus later this Fall. However, our first priority remains the health and safety of our campus community.

Investments in Remote Instruction

Over the past several months, we have made significant investments in technology to enhance the remote instruction experience. All remote courses will be taught to ensure learning outcomes are met and that students have a close relationship with instructors. Each course has been carefully designed to meet the needs of the curriculum and deliver the highest academic standards you expect from the University of San Diego.

Our faculty will engage students in a remote classroom environment that continues to offer small class sizes, open discussion, hands-on-experiences and creative problem solving. Faculty are committed to finding creative ways to connect with students and build strong classroom communities via Zoom and other media platforms. We will deliver a faculty-student-centered academic experience in any learning mode.

Campus Housing

Current State and County guidance also does not allow for students to live on campus at this time. There are some exceptions for students with an institutional need to be on campus. When State and County guidance shifts in favor of allowing additional students on campus this Fall or in the Spring, we will honor the housing reservations currently in place and take action to provide students with on-campus housing options. Students with questions related to on- and off-campus housing options can contact housing@sandiego.edu.

Torero Athletics

All intercollegiate athletics activities have been postponed at this time, and will only resume subject to State, County, West Coast Conference and NCAA guidance.  The West Coast Conference has moved the earliest start date for intercollegiate athletic competition for fall sports to September 24. The Pioneer Football League has cancelled all non-conference games and is still evaluating conference game options for the football season.

Toreros Together!

I will be sharing with you a prerecorded President’s Forum later this week with more details on our plans. While we can’t predict the future impact of the COVID-19 virus, we do know that all the great work of our task forces will benefit us whether we are on campus or engaging in remote instruction. Our spirit of resilience enables us to adapt to humanity’s urgent challenges, and I am confident that when conditions allow us to gather together for in-person classroom experiences, we are prepared and ready. This pandemic continues to generate uncertainty, anxiety and serious health risks. We offer our prayers for the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and particularly for the most vulnerable among us.


James T. Harris III, D.Ed.