BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As Indiana University approaches the one-year anniversary of having to adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is looking forward with considerable optimism. IU President Michael A. McRobbie announced that the fall 2021 semester on all IU campuses will be in person and that the university expects that the fall semester will see a return to mostly normal operations.
"This decision has been made on the basis of advice from IU's medical and public health experts who have been leading the university's comprehensive and successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly a year now," McRobbie said. "It has also been made possible because of the dedicated, determined and creative actions of our students, faculty and staff, to whom we are deeply grateful."
Throughout the 2020-21 academic year, the university has implemented a number of health and safety policies to safely allow as many on-campus academic, research and creative activities as possible. Positivity rates have continued to fall and have recently been below 1 percent in part because of these policies.
Ongoing mitigation testing of IU students, faculty and staff has played a major role in enabling IU to manage COVID-19 on campus, with tens of thousands of tests completed across the university each week. And, as vaccine eligibility expands, IU is strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they're eligible.
"Having the vast majority of the IU community vaccinated against COVID-19 will be one of the keys to allowing an increase in in-person courses and activities on campuses this fall," said Aaron Carroll, director of mitigation testing; and associate dean for research mentoring and distinguished professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine. "All of the vaccines currently available are highly effective. Plus, our testing data continues to show very manageable levels of COVID-19 on our campuses. We are optimistic that should the current trends continue, we'll be back on campus together this fall."
Fall 2021 may not look exactly like the fall semester of 2019, but McRobbie and Carroll agree it won't be like fall 2020. The university will likely continue to have some health and safety precautions in place this fall, but much will depend on the state of the pandemic and the vaccine and how many in the IU community are fully vaccinated.
"As we have learned from the experience of the past year, in the face of this deadly pandemic we cannot set any of our plans in stone," McRobbie said. "As long as the pandemic is with us, we must be ready to adjust course rapidly, and we will constantly review our plans, activities and operations.
"However, because of the outstanding efforts of the entire IU community on all campuses across the state in successfully battling the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year, I am very confident that we will see a successful return to mostly normal university operations in the fall."