19 Committees for COVID-19 : Changes at BYU Fall 2020 Semester
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19 Committees for COVID-19

Two BYU students wearing mask walking outside.
Photo by Jaren Wilkey

Thirty minutes made all the difference, says Brandon L. Smith (BS ’04, MS ’07), senior director of AV Services for BYU’s Office of Information Technology. When COVID-19 struck, there wasn’t just a run on toilet paper—universities across the world were all after the same cameras and microphones to outfit their crisis-created online classrooms. The demand required lightning-speed decision-making for approvals that would normally take 12 to 18 months. “We got our order in just before a couple of other universities placed their orders,” says Smith. “If we had gotten our order in a half hour later, we may not have had supplies to pull [the fall 2020 semester] off. The amount of coordination has just been tremendous.”

An outline drawing of a woman wearing a mask.

Across campus, that coordination involved 19 committees tasked with answering a flood of questions: How would classes be administered—in person? online? in a hybrid fashion? Would BYU hold sporting events, performances, and conferences? What about the packed tables at the Cougareat? Just how many rolls of paper towels and bottles of disinfectant would be needed?

Speaking to faculty, administration, and staff at August’s University Conference, President Kevin J Worthen (BA ’79, JD ’82) called these efforts “an ongoing miracle that continues to this day as so many have worked so hard and so diligently to prepare for the return of our students to what is still a unique and precarious environment.”

Here’s a breakdown of some of the adjustments BYU made:

An outline illustration of a laptop screen that shows a man with a speech bubble.

Together, Apart, and In Between

28 percent: In-person undergrad classes

36 percent: Blended classes

26 percent: Live online classes

10 percent: On-demand online classes

Online Ed

• 26,459 enrollments in BYU Online courses, an increase of 130 percent over fall 2019

• 136 courses offered with 415 sections via BYU Online in fall 2020

An outline illustration of a hand with a washcloth.

Germ Busting

• 716 touch-free hand-sanitizer stations placed throughout campus

• 992 wipe dispensers

• 7,700 “Compassion Is Contagious” window clings placed throughoutcampus to promote COVID-prevention efforts

Smarter Classrooms

• 546 classrooms outfitted with HD cameras and audio systems (including 190 permanent systems)

• 2 months to install the systems and train faculty

• 75 percent of all BYU classrooms now tech-supported for blended learning

In Storage

5,600 desks, chairs, and tables moved in 150 truckloads to the old Provo High School to facilitate social-distanced learning