BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic as safely as possible but also bring about a return to some normalcy on campus, Indiana University posted the dates for its 2020-21 school year on its website Wednesday, and it includes more than 11 weeks with no students on campus from Thanksgiving break forward.

Classes will start on Aug. 24 and some will be taught in-person in Bloomington and some will be done remotely. Classes will continue until the traditional Thanksgiving break on Nov. 20, but then students will finish the semester remotely, and they do the same for the start of the spring semester from Jan. 19 to Feb. 7.

Students will then return to campus and be there until the semester ends on May 7. There will be no fall break or spring break this school year to keep the schedule condensed.

"As we have said repeatedly, the safety and well-being of all IU students, faculty and staff is our highest priority,'' Indiana president Michael A. McRobbie said in the announcement. "We have followed a methodical and deliberate approach in developing our plans for the new academic year and are relying on the best health and safety guidance available. We will also continue to adapt our plans to new developments as they arise.''

Though no determination of what might happen with the college football season has been announced, there is a schedule in place for now. Ten of Indiana's 12 football games will be played while students are on campus, with a lone home game — the Nov. 28 Old Oaken Bucket game against Purdue — falling in that window where students won't be on campus. That's the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Here is Indiana's complete home football schedule:

  • Sept. 12 — Western Kentucky
  • Sept. 19 — Ball State
  • Oct. 10 — Maryland
  • Oct. 24 — Michigan State
  • Oct. 31 — Penn State
  • Nov. 14 — Illinois
  • Nov. 28 — Purdue

The interesting part of this announcement and having students off-campus for basically 79 days from November to February is that the vast major of Indiana's basketball season is likely to be played without students on campus.

For instance, this past season, Indiana played 10 games at Assembly Hall between Nov. 20 and Feb. 7. (They played Purdue on Feb. 8). Overall, they played 18 of their 32 total games between those dates a year ago.

Several other safety precautions will  take place on campus, according to McRobbie's letter:

  • Residential housing: All rooms in all of IU’s residence halls will be single occupancy, but with a rigorous exemption process available for students who may wish to choose their own roommate.
  • IU health and safety procedures: IU will continue to thoroughly and comprehensively implement essential policies and procedures for all campuses regarding cleaning protocols, room capacities, distancing, personal responsibilities, and research in labs and shared spaces. These are designed to provide a safe working and educational environment when we resume activities on campus. These draw heavily on CDC and state guidelines, as well as our own medical and health expert advice. These guidelines will continue to evolve along with best practices, and the exact advice for the Fall Semester will be finalized closer to its start. But these can be expected to include the use of masks, continued social distancing, quarantining where necessary, reduced class sizes, modified food service and regular personal symptom checking.
  • Campus programs and planning: Each campus will adapt its academic courses and program offerings to best achieve a quality educational experience for students through a blend of in-person and online instruction.
  • Considerations for people with higher risks: We fully recognize, as the CDC states, that some members of the IU community may be at greater risk, and we are putting in place procedures for adjusting duties and expectations where needed and feasible.

This story will be updated with further announcements from the university.