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University of Utah, Utes, Utah

Scott G Winterton, KSL, File

University of Utah to use online classes as ‘circuit breaker’ against COVID-19 infections

By Marjorie Cortez, Deseret News | Posted - Jul. 28, 2020 at 12:18 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah will shift to online classwork for two weeks midsemester as a means to reduce possible COVID-19 infections on campus.

The university had planned to shift to online coursework around the vice presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 7 at Kingsbury Hall. Officials have since announced the break will be from Sept. 28 to Oct. 9. On-campus classes will resume Oct. 12.

According to Steven Lacey, public health division chief at the university, creating a pause in the middle of the semester should help reduce the number of infections.

“We can use this interruption to better protect students, faculty and staff,” said Lacey in a statement.

University officials decided to pivot to online learning for two weeks based on models developed by U. Health infectious disease epidemiologist Lindsay Keegan.

Dan Reed, senior vice president for academic affairs, said the two-week online “circuit breaker” will reduce spread of the virus and help protect the campus community.

“As a leading public research university, the U. is drawing on the public health expertise of University of Utah Health epidemiology researchers in making this change,” Reed said.

University leaders have focused on preserving the on-campus college experience for first-year college students and ensuring that seniors are able to complete their graduation requirements.


We can use this interruption to better protect students, faculty and staff.

–Steven Lacey, U of U


A majority of classes will be delivered online, with exceptions for experiential learning courses, including fine arts studio classes; practicums and clinical rotations; and laboratory instruction.

All courses will shift online after Thanksgiving break, which begins Nov. 25.

Fall classes begin at the U. on Aug. 24. The university will offer a variety of instructional models: in-person, online and in-person hybrids, online and interactive video conferencing models.

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Marjorie Cortez

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