Indiana, Iowa presidents share differing expectations of fall

Field Level Media

April 30, 2020 at 9:13 pm.

Returning to campus this fall for in-person classes and athletics is the preference at Indiana University, but that option also looks doubtful, according to the school’s president.

University of Iowa president Bruce Harreld said later Thursday he’s hopeful the moratorium on athletic practices can be lifted June 1.

“We have a moratorium on all team-related activities until June 1. We’re ever so hopeful that this virus will be behind us at that point, and we’ll be able to get back into what we normally do,” Harreld said.

Michael A. McRobbie, president of Indiana University, released five scenarios the administration is discussing for the fall semester. McRobbie cautioned that while the university prefers students return to campus for in-person learning, this option is “highly unlikely.”

“As experts have warned, it is likely we will need to continue social distancing and many other preventive measures to detect and protect against the spread of COVID-19 until a vaccine is widely deployed,” McRobbie said. “This will mean that even a return to in-person teaching and research would require careful consideration of, among other measures, reconfiguring large lecture classes; re-engineering courses and performances that bring people into close physical contact; and modifying laboratory and studio practices to ensure proper distancing, numbers of people in gatherings and cleaning.”

McRobbie said there is a hybrid model of on- and off-campus learning methods that is gaining favor with administrators, but the impact or plan for student-athletes was not addressed.

“We are still far from sure what form the next academic year will take, but it will almost certainly look and feel different,” McRobbie said. “COVID-19 will be with us this fall in some way, and perhaps longer, until a cure is uncovered. To this end, I do not want to sugarcoat the situation with trite phrases or hollow optimism.

“Even under the best of circumstances, academic and research life at IU will not be the same for some time, and we will feel the repercussions of this pandemic for many years.”