Mason plans for expansion of in-person classes and increased on-campus capacity for fall semester


In an email to the Mason community on March 5, President Gregory Washington announced his plans for the fall semester. The fall semester plan includes increasing on-campus instruction to 75 percent capacity, expanding the capacity of on-campus residences and enhancing hybrid learning, while continuing to enforce public health protocols including mask-wearing and testing. 

Washington cited falling COVID-19 cases nationally and vaccination distribution as reasons to bring more students back to campus, and is looking to “expand operations in the fall and resume a more normal campus environment.” 

During the 2020-2021 school year, Mason implemented the Safe Return to Campus plan, which includes several initiatives to ensure that the health and safety of students are not compromised. The plan includes limiting social gatherings on campus, requiring mask-wearing on campus, testing students and staff regularly, documentation of illness and the implementation of the COVID-19 health check, which requires completion before one comes to campus.

The spring semester saw a 10 percent increase in in-person classes, increased testing and the expansion of occupancy in residence halls. Hybrid courses, mandatory COVID-19 tests, social distancing guidelines and hygiene policies all remained the same from the fall semester throughout the spring.

For the fall 2021 semester, Washington plans to bring classrooms back to their original capacities “with some modifications,” with the goal being to have at least 75 percent of instruction in person, while also allowing for online and hybrid opportunities for students who want them. 

“Students deserve a choice to learn in an environment that works best for them, and we will do our best to offer multiple modes of learning and experience. At the same time, we are mindful of concerns raised by faculty and staff, and we will continue to follow the guidance of public health officials. We are prepared to change course, if necessary,” Washington wrote in his email.