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Students walk across the University of Oklahoma campus in masks during the first week of OU’s spring semester.

The University of Oklahoma will return to in-person instruction at regular capacity when the fall 2021 semester begins, the university announced Tuesday.

Classes designed for in-person learning will resume with full capacity and any necessary safety precautions in the fall, OU President Joe Harroz said in an email.

During the 2020-21 school year, the university moved in-person classes with more than 40 students to online delivery, and shuffled classroom arrangements to accommodate distancing.

Decreasing COVID-19 numbers and rising vaccination numbers factored into the university’s fall plans, Harroz said. After reaching all-time highs in new case numbers and total statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations in January, Oklahoma has seen a steady decline in its hospitalizations and its new case averages, a trend experts attribute to vaccinations, mitigation strategies and more.

OU will continue to listen to guidance from Dr. Dale Bratzler, who has served as the university’s chief COVID officer through the pandemic, Harroz said.

Harroz encouraged the OU community to get vaccinated when possible, and to continue with masking and hygiene precautions, which experts say are key to maintaining Oklahoma’s control and reduction of COVID-19’s spread.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation in the coming months, ensuring that all appropriate health and safety measures are in place,” Harroz’s email said. “Although we remain hopeful, we acknowledge that the pandemic has taught us to be nimble in our response.”

According to Harroz, OU will share more details of its summer and fall plans in coming weeks.

Emma Keith covers Norman Public Schools and the University of Oklahoma for The Transcript. Reach her at ekeith@normantranscript.com or at @emma_ckeith.

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Emma Keith covers the coronavirus pandemic and education for The Norman Transcript, with a focus on Norman Public Schools and The University of Oklahoma. She is a 2019 OU graduate.