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UW responds to pressure from Trump administration to reopen in fall

Students at the University of Washington on campus for the last day of in-person classes on March 6, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

After an announcement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that international students opting for online-only learning in the fall may have to leave the United States, the University of Washington (UW) is weighing its options.

Washington schools get more guidance on what fall classes will look like

“We were surprised and concerned by today’s announcement,” the UW’s School of Public Health said in a written statement Tuesday.

According to one estimate, the new rules from ICE could cost colleges in the United States a combined $41 billion.

In the days ahead, the UW plans to work with Washington’s federal lawmakers, as well as “other key federal officials and experts in the field to both determine what the impact of this proposal would be and to seek to change it to minimize any impact on international students.”

One idea floated by activists in a newly-circulated petition is to create a one-credit class with one in-person meeting every quarter, “as well as excused absences in other quarters.”

“Doing this would allow international students, already burdened by the stress of studying in a foreign country and the perpetual uncertainty about their visa status due to the pandemic, to stay in the US without fear of deportation,” reads the petition, which has already garnered over 7,000 signatures.

This comes during a larger push from President Trump to “put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools” this fall.

Ursula: Making students pay full tuition during pandemic is unethical

“We want to reopen the schools. Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it. It’s time to do it,” Trump said at a recent White House event.

Gov. Jay Inslee responded to ICE’s declaration during a Tuesday press conference, labeling it a “typically xenophobic and reckless act” from the Trump administration.

Harvard University announced this week that it plans to bring as much as 40% of its undergraduate class back for in-person class in the fall. Princeton University will be enacting a similar plan as well.

For its own fall plans, the UW announced last week that all classes with over 50 students will be taught remotely. Classes under that threshold will take place in larger rooms that allow for appropriate distancing between students as a safety precaution.

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