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The Path Forward

Journeying Toward a Safe Reopening of Campus

While our current environment is filled with upheaval and uncertainty, there is also much reason to take heart.

We are blessed to be part of a university with a deep history and strong values that guide us. We have a higher purpose: we educate students to be servant-leaders, we conduct research for the common good, and we help to build community here in Dayton and around the world.

We are at our best when we are in community together, and it is for that reason that we are pivoting toward re-opening campus in the fall as our highest priority.

The UD Path Forward Task Force, supported by several working groups, is developing options and plans for a safe reopening; their work follows the University's guiding principles for making decisions about challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ask The President


May 9, 2020

President Eric Spina answers questions from SGA President Natalie Coppolino and Vice President Anne Philbin.

Ask The President


May 9, 2020

President Eric Spina answers questions from SGA President Natalie Coppolino and Vice President Anne Philbin.


Nearly 100 members from a cross-section of campus have come together in working groups that will make recommendations on reopening. Co-chaired by Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Paul Benson, Vice President for Student Development Bill Fischer, and Executive Vice President of Business and Administrative Services Andy Horner, the UD Path Forward Task Force will study options, consult with campus constituents and vet recommendations with public health officials.

Four primary working groups will develop recommendations for critical areas of University operations including academics, students, preventive measures, and infrastructure and operations. In addition, seven specialized groups are focusing on implementing plans and campus operations in the context of the pandemic.

The task force will also consider athletics, while understanding that we will follow guidance from the NCAA, our medical team and public health officials about when it’s safe for student-athletes to return to practice and competition.

The University is guided by a set of principles that University leaders have been following when making decisions about challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are exploring a range of models for safely reopening campus, including a traditional August start, a gradually staged reopening, or a hybrid mixture of face-to-face and online learning. While details need to be worked out, cornerstones of our approach will include:

  • strategic testing for all members of our community and being prepared for contact tracing when infection does occur;
  • following the public health guidelines for social distancing and other health safeguards;
  • creation of effective "households" in our student residences, connoting the expectation of small groups of students making a mutual commitment to each other’s health and safety; and
  • the development and implementation of creative approaches to the academic calendar, class scheduling, and pedagogy, including the ability to employ various combinations of in-person and online interactions throughout the semester as necessitated by the local state of the pandemic.

It is likely that small pilots will be conducted on campus beginning in May that will include small, carefully selected and well-rationalized programs for which detailed plans will be developed with public health officials. These pilots will allow us to learn about the efficacy of our planned approaches and make adjustments as we move toward a broader reopening of campus.

Given the uncertainty of the pandemic, we don't have a precise timeline for final decisions and will need to be prepared to pivot to other approaches at a moment's notice, but expect high-level recommendations by late May or early June. In July we should have more clarity on our ultimate approach for reopening campus in the fall and keeping the community as healthy as possible. We are mindful that our options must take into account possible shifting of the national or local health landscape.

We welcome all ideas, especially around areas of student life geared toward keeping the campus community as healthy as possible. Please send your ideas to

We are working with public health officials and expect to put in place new policies and practices that may include social distancing; limiting the number of people in offices, classrooms, residence halls, and labs at one time; stringent sanitation measures; daily temperature monitoring; the use of face coverings or other personal protective equipment, and other public health requirements and guidelines. officials.

No matter what policies and practices are established, the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff — as well as our ability to remain here on campus — depend upon our mutual commitment to each other, our commitment to community. This mutuality, a true interdependence, will be critical as we all adapt to new expectations, whether in the classroom, in residence halls, or in the student neighborhood.