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Christian Brothers University plans to return to in-person learning in the fall

Christian Brothers University President said the schools plans to return to full in-person, on campus classes in the fall.
Credit: Christian Brothers University

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In a letter sent to faculty, staff, and students Thursday, Christian Brothers University President said the schools plans to return to full in-person, on campus classes in the fall.

The letter said the plan is for hybrid classes to return to traditional classrooms.

CBU says all summer courses for this year are planned to be online.

Read the full letter below.

Dear Christian Brothers University Community,

The past thirteen months have been a period unlike any other that we have experienced during our lifetimes. A once-in-a-century pandemic has transformed all of our lives and has tested us greatly as a Lasallian community. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who have lost loved ones, or felt economic pain, or battled physical or mental health issues, because of the virus.

COVID has presented countless challenges, issues and problems for us. It also has revealed our many collective and individual strengths. I know it has not been easy, but I want to thank each of you for your perseverance, collegiality and commitment in meeting the needs of our students these past thirteen months.

This past March, we made the difficult decision to go fully remote as we endeavored to learn more about the rapidly spreading coronavirus and its many implications for our campus community. In the summer of last year, following the available scientific data and public health guidance, we transitioned to a mixed model of instruction, allowing us to have a number of face-to-face and hybrid classes with safe social distancing and masking requirements, to the resulting benefit of our students. Today, I would like to share with you our preliminary plans for the upcoming fall semester.

We find ourselves in a very different position than last March. We now know more about COVID and how to mitigate its spread. We have lived with the virus on a daily basis for thirteen months and have learned how to protect ourselves, our friends, our families and our neighbors from it. Perhaps most encouragingly, we now have a ready supply of vaccines that give us hope of soon returning to some sense of normalcy in our lives.

These changed circumstances, along with other factors, allow us the opportunity now to once again adjust the way we do our work together as a community.

Our preliminary plans for the fall semester are to offer our students a full complement of on-campus courses beginning in August. Class size limitations will be restored to actual room capacities or traditional instructional limits. The expectation is that these courses will be taught in person and in compliance with whatever social distancing, masking and other public health requirements may be in place throughout the semester and academic year. 

The plan anticipates that all current hybrid courses will be converted back to a traditional face-to-face format. At the same time, we also will continue to encourage the development and offering of our online course offerings, building upon the growth, momentum and excellence we have achieved in this area this past year. Faculty who anticipate requiring an online-only accommodation for the fall should contact Human Resources with a request, as existing accommodations will not automatically roll over to the new academic year.

Between now and August, our preliminary plans are to deliver all summer classes online, just as we did last year.  At the same time, we also expect to be able host new student orientation in-person this summer, but with masking and social distancing in effect.  We anticipate that our new array of summer college readiness programs for incoming students will be conducted on campus as well.

We presently are working with the City of Memphis and others to afford the members of our community the opportunity to be vaccinated before the start of the fall semester. In a January 10th interview broadcast on Italian television, Pope Francis said “I believe that morally everyone must take the vaccine. It is the moral choice because it is about your life but also the lives of others."  Our hope is to provide future vaccination clinics here on campus so that the morally imperative choice noted by the Pope is also a logistically easy one for all of us to make.

In the days ahead, I will be sharing with you additional details for the fall semester as our plans are further developed and defined.  Like this past summer, I expect that this will be a collaborative and iterative process that will involve many members of our campus community.  In the meantime, should you have questions or recommendations, I would encourage you to please email or call me at your convenience.

In closing, I want to thank you again for your perseverance, collegiality and support of each other throughout these past thirteen months and, together by association, I look forward to a safe and successful start to the upcoming academic year, as we soon bring this one to a fulfilling and prudent close with the commencement celebration of our new graduates later this spring.

May Saint John Baptiste De LaSalle continue to hold us in his heart, and may his spirit along with Jesus’s continue to live in our hearts and inform the work we do as a community.

Thank you.

Jack Shannon
Christian Brothers University

Christian Brothers University is a Catholic university in the student-centered tradition of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. CBU fosters academic excellence in a range of programs to prepare students from all faiths and backgrounds for careers and lives informed by the Lasallian values of faith, service, and community.

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