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BU to offer undergrads a fall choice: online or in-person classes

Boston University is offering undergraduates a hybrid approach to learning for the fall semester.Blake Nissen for The Boston Globe

Boston University will give its more than 18,000 undergraduate students the choice of in-person and online classes when it reopens the campus this fall.

On Monday, BU officials said they would offer this hybrid teaching model for students who can’t make it to campus and to meet social distancing guidelines.

The university announced several weeks ago that it would offer graduate students online options, but had taken more time to develop plans for undergraduates.

BU announced its undergraduate program, called Learn from Anywhere, in a university publication on Monday.

“BU students now have the option to either be in the classroom in person or to participate remotely from their dorm room or off-campus home, and they can exercise that remote option at any time during the semester," BU President Robert Brown told BU Today. "LfA also enables the university to provide the necessary social distancing in classrooms, studios, and laboratory spaces.”

BU has said that it intends to bring students back on campus this fall and has slowly been rolling out details in recent weeks. The university said it planned to operate a testing laboratory so it could administer and quickly get results from COVID-19 tests on students, faculty, and staff.


The university said it is also planning to reduce large classes into smaller student groups, called platoons. While one platoon attends class in-person, the remaining groups would do so remotely, on a rolling basis.

BU officials have also said that students will receive grades this fall for classes. When the campus closed this past spring and classes were taught remotely, the university offered students the choice of getting credit or no credit, instead of a grade.

Like BU, most Boston-area universities are trickling out plans for the fall. Most have said they intend to bring students back to campus, but have offered scarce details on how many students are likely to return and how dormitories and classrooms will be organized to curb the spread of the virus.


On Monday, Regis College in Weston announced that it would start classes online in mid-August with a plan to bring students back to campus on a rolling basis after Labor Day. The college also plans to split the semester into two shorter terms, giving it some flexibility if the virus spreads and students need to suddenly be sent home later in the fall.

“These changes create the most flexible conditions for student success if health and safety guidelines require a rapid adjustment between remote and in-person learning,” Antoinette M. Hays, the Regis president, said in a statement.

Most Boston-area colleges and universities expect to have more firm fall plans announced by July 1.

College leaders have said much still depends on how widespread the virus is at the end of the summer, their ability to test students and staff, and whether they can create environments where students aren’t always gathered in large groups and more likely to transmit the virus.

Many higher education institutions are considering earlier start dates and eliminating fall breaks to ensure that students don’t travel and bring the virus back to campus as well as hybrid learning programs that include some remote classes and some in-person learning.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at Follow her @fernandesglobe.