WINSTON-SALEM — Wake Forest University became the latest area school to declare that it will reopen its campus this fall to in-person instruction but under much different conditions than usual.
The private Winston-Salem university announced Friday that undergraduate students will start their fall semester classes Aug. 26, two days later than originally planned. The two-day fall break scheduled for mid-October has been canceled, and the university said it will ask students and faculty to limit their off-campus travel during the semester.
On-campus instruction will end Nov. 24 — two days before Thanksgiving — and students will finish classes and take exams after Thanksgiving. The last final exams will be given Dec. 18, about a week later than usual.
Wake Forest and other area colleges and universities have made noticeable changes to their fall semester schedules in hopes of getting a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic that led them to send most students home in March and move in-person instruction online.
By keeping students and faculty close to campus without a break for three months, campus leaders want to help keep the disease from spreading. And by ending in-person instruction before Thanksgiving, college and university presidents are trying to stay ahead of a predicted second wave of COVID-19 infections that could hit when temperatures drop.
In its announcement Friday, Wake Forest said courses will be offered in face-to-face and online formats and a combination of the two. The university said it might reconfigure its residence halls and will offer more take-away service and delivery options at its dining halls.
Some professional schools also might see changes to their fall schedules. Wake Forest's law school, for instance, will start classes a week early this fall.
A few student-athletes recovering from injuries returned to campus Monday, and more are expected to arrive later this month and in July. Wake Forest didn't say when other undergraduates could come back to campus but promised to announce its full reopening plan June 30. Wake Forest set up a new website — ourwayforward.wfu.edu — to give details about its upcoming fall semester.
"We trust that each community member will understand that measures will need to be taken to keep one another healthy," President Nathan Hatch wrote in a message to Wake Forest students and employees Friday. "One lesson of the pandemic is that individual actions are interconnected. Our ability to sustain a viable fall semester will depend on each of us doing our part. ...
"More than anything, I want to see our campus and spaces filled with life and learning."