Boston University has announced that it may not re-open its campus until its next spring semester in January 2021.
Boston University, a private residential research university with 33,000 students that traces its roots to 1839, made its announcement through BU Today, a news site managed by its communications department. The article added the January start date would happen in the “unlikely event” that health officials advise that social distancing should extend through the fall.
Still, Boston University is the first major college or university to make such an announcement. The school has already canceled its in-person summer classes.
University President Robert Brown closed the campus on March 22 and announced five working groups who are all contributing to a COVID-19 recovery plan. The plan includes a group that is examining remote learning and another focused on residential life.
Richard Ekman, president of the nonprofit Council of Independent Colleges, said other colleges in the council have begun quiet discussions to consider plans in case they have to postpone campus openings. Others are discussing start date delays of a month or are looking at more extended closures.
“They’re all waiting to get better health information,” Ekman said.
The coronavirus outbreak has hit colleges hard. Colleges nationwide have canceled classes and sent students home. As a result, millions of dollars have disappeared from colleges and the towns they reside in. Some colleges are trying to raise much-needed revenue and are reporting that without additional funding, they may have to close permanently.
Adding to the issue is the fact that when campuses open again, enrollment will certainly be down at many schools. As a result, many campuses will be raising tuition, room and board, and social activity fees.
Because of this, calls for widespread student loan forgiveness have started up again. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has also released a plan for student loan forgiveness.