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The University of Colorado Boulder will shift to remote learning for the remainder of the semester starting Nov. 16 as coronavirus cases surge in Boulder County and across Colorado.

All classes already were scheduled to go remote after Thanksgiving to prevent the spread of coronavirus because of holiday travel, but switching to remote learning earlier gives students the chance to return home before Thanksgiving, Provost Russell Moore and interim Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke wrote in a letter to campus today. The last day of in-person classes will be Nov. 13.

The announcement does not change CU Boulder’s plan to offer in-person and hybrid learning for the spring semester, Moore and O’Rourke wrote.

Boulder County is tightening restrictions amid a sharp rise in cases across all age groups starting Friday, and Boulder County Public Health reported 292 new cases today.

“We are in a dire situation. If things don’t change quickly, the county will need to move to Stay at Home level, which will be devastating for our economy,” spokesperson Chana Goussetis wrote in an email. “We hope that remote learning will help to reduce transmission of the virus and send a message that we all need to keep our socializing to our own household.”

The main goal of switching to remote learning earlier than planned was to give students plenty of flexibility to travel home and to get tested for coronavirus before doing so, said CU Boulder spokesperson Joshua Lindenstein.

“This approach may also have the effect of preventing virus spread in general, but our first motivation was giving our students flexibility and enabling more time for our campus to transition through the remainder of the semester given the current trajectory of the virus,” Lindenstein wrote in an email.

CU Boulder will also extend the hours of some on-campus testing locations starting Monday so students and staff can take coronavirus monitoring tests before returning home or traveling.

“We strongly encourage any students planning to leave Boulder to get tested 48 to 72 hours prior to departure at any one of our on-campus testing sites,” Moore and O’Rourke wrote. “We strongly encourage faculty and staff to get tested if they plan to travel.”

The University Memorial Center testing site for off-campus students and employees not required to take monitoring tests will be open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. For on-campus students and employees required to take monitoring tests, testing sites at Folsom Field and Porter Biosciences will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The extended hours will be in effect until Nov. 25.

Monitoring testing sites at SEEC, Kittredge Central and the Village Center Dining and Community Commons will be open for their regular hours. CU Boulder currently can process about 3,000 monitoring tests a day, Lindenstein said.

Students living on campus can remain in their residence halls until Nov. 25. The university will continue to provide dining services for students on campus, as well as isolation spaces for students who test positive for COVID-19. The change to remote learning does not impact research activities or work modes for employees, according to the announcement.

Campus leaders will host a virtual town hall about the changes at 11 a.m. Friday, which can be accessed via Zoom at bit.ly/34Zt2se.

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