Ivy Tech, IUPUC returning to in-person learning in fall

Two area colleges will likely see a return to more in-person classes this fall.

Ivy Tech Community College announced Monday it will offer fall courses, which begin in August, in person across its statewide campuses. Other options for instruction will continue to be available, too. The first fall session begins Aug. 18.

In late February, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie announced the fall 2021 semester on all IU campuses will be in person and that the university anticipates the fall semester to see some return of normalcy to operations. According to Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus’ website, the first day of classes is set for Aug. 23.

IU director of media relations Chuck Carney said while most fall classes will be offered in person, there will still be online classes, too. Per the fall 2021 schedule of classes for IUPUC, different instruction modes include in person, hybrid options, online options and distance video.

Ivy Tech officials said they are working to increase the number of in-person classes.

“Ivy Tech is committed to offering flexibility so that our students can earn a degree or certificate that allows them to take that next step for a high-wage, high-value career,” said Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann.

“We look forward to welcoming our students back to campus over the coming months,” she said. “We know that for many students, success happens best in an in-person setting, and for some programs, it is a must to provide the proper hands-on experience and personal interactions. Ultimately, our goal is to enable our students’ success while providing them the safest, most accommodating learning environment.”

The college system begins its next spring session March 22 and expects about 25% of courses to be offered in person. In-person classes will further increase June 7, which is when most summer courses begin. By August, it is anticipated all students who want to return to campus will be able to do so.

Ivy Tech also will continue to offer multiple course options, including Learn Anywhere, a course delivery method that was designed for working adults and launched as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who enroll in a Learn Anywhere course choose in-person, virtual or online learning formats for each class session based on their needs on a given day.

According to Ivy Tech’s course catalog, other instruction modes for courses include traditional, online only, virtual instruction and blended options.

Although the college’s decision to offer fall courses in person is based on current COVID-19 trends throughout the state, if new state guidelines or federal regulations are released, adjustments will be made, Ivy Tech officials said. At this time, masks and social distancing will continue to be required.

IUPUC is currently offering in-person, hybrid and fully online courses, Carney said. This also will be the case for summer courses, he said.

Health and safety protocols have partially contributed to decreasing positivity rates, which were under 1% at one point. Students, faculty and staff also have participated in ongoing mitigation testing with tens of thousands of tests completed each week. Carney said there was only one positive test reported at IUPUC last week.

While the fall of 2021 may not look exactly like fall of 2019, it won’t be like the fall of 2020, Carney said. The university’s COVID-19 protocols in the fall will depend on the state of the pandemic and vaccination levels within the IU community.

Carney said IU expects to continue some of its safety practices, including some mitigation testing.

The decision to return to in-person learning in the fall is based on recommendations from health officials.

“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.”

The university also is encouraging individuals to get vaccinated as soon as they become 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 director of mitigation testing Aaron Carroll. “All of the vaccines currently available are highly effective. Plus, our testing data continue 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.”

However, McRobbie said when it comes to planning amid COVID-19, flexibility is important, and plans may have to change.

“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,” he 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, he said because of “outstanding efforts of the entire IU community” in fighting the virus, he feels confident they will return to “mostly normal university operations” in the fall.

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For information about Ivy Tech Community College’s Columbus campus, visit ivytech.edu/columbus.

For information about Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, visit iupuc.edu.


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