CSU Announces Plans for Return to Campus Fall Semester 2020

Cleveland State

CLEVELAND (June 23, 2020) – CSU announced today its plans to resume in-person classes at the start of the fall semester. The announcement was made by President Harlan Sands in a campus-wide communication today to the university community.

Designed to offer a robust college experience, the plan includes maximizing the number of in-person classroom experiences that can be safely delivered, providing managed usage of faculty and staff offices to support the increased on-campus presence, residential living options, on-site access to most support services and a phased approach for resuming athletics programs.

The CSU approach is predicated on an intensive, comprehensive “healthy campus” action plan that will require the entire on-campus community to commit to stringent guidelines and safety protocols. The plan includes wearing appropriate face coverings at all times, maintaining safe physical distances, frequent hand washing, daily health monitoring, robust testing of symptomatic students and employees, intensive contact tracing, de-densifying classroom space and resident halls, control of high foot-traffic flow, and advanced disinfecting practices.

“To be successful, we must take care and do this together,” President Sands said. “All of us have a responsibility to adjust to these necessary changes and commit to embracing a culture that keeps our Viking community safe.”


The CSU academic calendar will start as scheduled this fall. Classes will begin Monday, August 24, and continue through Friday, December 4. Final exams will take place December 7-12. The university will track progression of the pandemic and is prepared to adjust the fall calendar as necessary to keep campus safe.

CSU will adopt a hybrid approach for remote teaching and learning that optimizes use of campus spaces to allow for the largest number of in-person classes. Sands said the leadership planning group engaged in extensive data analysis to assess the university’s ability to effectively minimize its campus footprint and to ensure decisions were data-driven and based upon the latest science in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the students and workforce. The group also gave consideration to the views of as many constituencies as possible, including students, faculty, professional staff, parents and other stakeholders.

“Based on our extensive study of CSU classroom capacity, our current fall schedule and safety protocols, our current intent is to offer over 50% of our fall schedule on campus, totaling more than 1,300 classes,” Sands said. “That includes over 400 classes for degree or licensure requirements, over 450 first-year classes, and more than 500 classes that faculty believe should be delivered in person for best learning outcomes. To maintain proper physical distancing, almost all on-campus classes will have fewer than 30 students in attendance in each class section.”

Regarding teaching and learning, CSU will continue to work with its faculty and staff to ensure it protects their health and well-being while on campus. This will include accommodations, as appropriate, for employees at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to health conditions. CSU will also present flexibility for students who may at higher risk through additional online sections and remote teaching and learning options for classes held on-campus. 

Phased return

Over the next two months, CSU will work toward transitioning support services and ensuring appropriate staffing levels and resources are available to support the increased on-campus presence. As CSU’s academic mission is its number one priority, all on-campus events will be restricted and group meeting size will be limited. To limit the campus footprint, all support services and administrative functions that can effectively be delivered remotely will remain in place for the fall semester.


Cleveland State is working with health care leaders and public health officials to develop a COVID-19 testing protocol for symptomatic individuals. CSU’s follow-up plan will also include symptom tracking and contact tracing. Dedicated quarantine areas will be established for on-campus residents or those who cannot quarantine at home if required.

On-campus housing

A full residential experience will be offered this fall, with strict de-densification guidelines that provide for social and physical distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols. For fall semester, all students will be assigned individual, private bedrooms in Euclid Commons or Fenn Tower. Priority will be given to students with a course or courses on campus in fall, students whose scholarship is tied to living on campus, and returning students who have already applied for on-campus housing. Students will be expected to fulfill responsibilities and expectations for keeping their rooms clean and safe, as well as mitigation of risk, especially in common areas, hallways and bathrooms. Move-in will be staggered to help us best adhere to physical distancing protocols. Dining and retail options for students will be adjusted as necessary to ensure healthy behaviors. 

Campus safety

To accommodate an increased on-campus presence, the university is restructuring classrooms and other spaces to allow for appropriate physical distancing, including relocating some classes and other activities to larger spaces and staggering days and times to allow for smaller group sizes. All students, staff, faculty, vendors and visitors will be required to take an online health assessment every day before coming to campus and will be required to wear masks at all times while on campus. Students, faculty and staff will be asked to demonstrate their commitment to a safe on-campus community through a social contract that commits all community member to behaving responsibly.

To further decrease physical spread of the virus, handwashing and hand sanitizing stations will be located across campus, and cleaning cycles will be intensified so that classrooms, common areas and high-touch surfaces can be appropriately sanitized. Use of plexiglas shields in areas with high potential for person-to-person contact will be prevalent. Additionally, CSU will provide directional signage to control foot-traffic flow through buildings and on campus pathways, invest in signage and educational materials that clearly spell out protocols and safety directives, and employ student “Safety Ambassadors” to help educate others on safety procedures and promote positive physical distancing behaviors across the campus.


Beginning July 15, CSU Athletics will employ a phased approach to resuming team activities beginning with four fall team sports: men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, and cross country. The initial cohort of approximately 85 student athletes will complete an extended pre-participation physical exam by the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Center staff and will be closely monitored as training progresses. 

“It’s critical we create a culture where safety is top of mind,” said Sands. “It’s up to us to keep ourselves and others safe. This will only work if we each do our part.”

About Cleveland State University

Founded in 1964, Cleveland State University is a public research institution that provides a dynamic setting for Engaged Learning. With 17,000-plus students, ten colleges and schools and more than 175 academic programs, CSU was again chosen for 2020 as one of America’s best universities by U.S. News & World Report. Find more information HERE

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