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Central PA colleges announce plans for fall semesters amid COVID-19 outbreak

More and more colleges and universities across PA are announcing their plans to either return to campus or offer remote classes this fall. Here's a list.
Credit: FOX43

Several colleges and universities across Central Pennsylvania are announcing their plans for the fall semester amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Here's a list of Pennsylvania schools that have released their plans so far. The list will be updated as FOX43 receives more information:

Central Penn College

Central Penn College announced that in-person classes would return in the fall term with enhanced safety protocols to protect students, faculty, staff and visitors. The college operates on a quarterly, year-round schedule, with the fall term beginning on Oct. 5.

During the fall term, Central Penn College will return to its regular offerings of face-to-face, online and hybrid classes. On Aug. 1, on-site health services will be available to students and employees through a new partnership with UPMC. Access to all buildings, classrooms and student-facing offices will require scanning a QR code via the Central Penn app to bolster contact tracing.

As the campus reopens, the college will follow the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health’s recommendations for social distancing, which include:

  • Mask-wearing
  • Class sizes limited to 15, with students spaced at least six feet apart
  • Increased hand-sanitizer stations and increased cleanings throughout the college, especially of common areas
  • Screening form – must be completed before returning to campus
  • Personal contact logs – must be kept by all students and employees

For more information about the college’s reopening plans, visit: www.centralpenn.edu/COVID.

Dickinson College

President Margee M. Ensign announced July 15 that Dickinson College will offer remote learning for the Fall 2020 semester. Only a small number of students will be brought back for on-campus residence:

  • International students who need to return to campus (permission will be automatically granted)
  • Students with specific basic needs that are not met at home, such as secure housing, food, internet or computer access.
  • Special academic projects that cannot be postponed or done remotely—on request of faculty member only.
  • Student workers performing essential functions as approved by Human Resource Services and the divisional vice president.

Classes will begin Aug. 17. The school will hold tuition steady for this year, rather than moving forward with a previously planned 3.9% increase. The school's fall student activities fee will also be waived.

Elizabethtown College

In-person classes will resume August 24, according to an email sent to students and their parents and guardians by president Cecilia McCormack on July 14. 

Numerous COVID-19 safety measures will be in place, McCormack said. 

The school will require all students, faculty and staff to wear face masks or cloth face coverings inside all campus buildings. Students who are alone or with a roommate in their dorms may remove their masks, as can employees who are alone in their offices. Exceptions will be made for eating. Community members must wear facial coverings outdoors when six-feet of distance from others cannot be maintained, the school said. Elizabethtown will also provide one mask to all students, and recommends that students bring other face coverings with them to campus.

No guests or visitors from other residence halls will be permitted in students' dorm rooms, the school said. Social distance measures will be marked within the buildings including students reserving shower times both in the morning and evenings. 

Classrooms will also be reconfigured to provide social distancing, and students will be tested for COVID-19 prior to their arrival on campus, McCormack said.

Other information about E-town's 2020 fall semester can be found here.

Franklin & Marshall College

Classes will resume at F&M on August 26 and will run through the Thanksgiving Recess on Nov. 20. Students will work from home for the rest of the semester after Thanksgiving.

F&M's COVID-19 mitigation plan includes: pre-screening for symptoms prior to arriving back on campus; testing; daily self-screening by all members of the community after arrival; availability and use of masks and other personal protective equipment; physical distancing; cleaning protocols; comprehensive education and communication; and appropriate quarantine, isolation, and contact tracing protocols. 

The school said it will use a staggered approach for students returning to campus. Students will return in phases prior to the start of classes. The school said it will announce return dates before the end of July.

For more information on F&M's 2020 Fall semester, go here.

Gettysburg College

For the fall semester, Gettysburg College said it will start classes on August 17, eliminate fall Reading Days, finish on-campus instruction by November 20, and hold finals remotely. 

The school said its housing plan "reduces residential density and establishes individual and shared expectations designed to support the health and safety of everyone."

Every student and employee will be required to wear a mask or face covering on campus when they are in campus buildings, including common spaces in dorms, or within six feet of another person. Large gatherings where social distancing is not feasible will not be permitted. 

All Gettysburg College community members are responsible for monitoring their own health on a daily basis. 

Additional information is available here.

Harrisburg Area Community College

Fall classes will begin on Aug. 24. Classes will be taught online through remote instruction and virtual learning. Classes that are currently scheduled for a specific day on a campus will be held during the scheduled time over Zoom. HACC said it is working to update the schedule to include that the class will be held remotely via Zoom. 

Only essential personnel or employees involved in the approved programs may return to campus. Training will be provided on COVID-19 protocol and screenings. 

Additional information is available here.

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology

After multiple discussions among leaders of the HU community, as well as reviewing a wide range of options being considered by other universities, HU has decided that all undergraduate classes will be delivered online for the Fall 2020 semester. 

No face-to-face sessions will be held and no student access to HU classrooms or facilities will be provided.

Prior to, and throughout, the Fall 2020 semester, please continue to monitor HU’s COVID-19 webpage for news and developments: https://covid.harrisburgu.edu/.

Lebanon Valley College

In-person classes at LVC will begin August 24 and run through Thanksgiving Break. Instruction after the break will continue remotely through December 4. Finals will also be held remotely from Dec. 7-11. 

LVC has also altered plans for the Spring semester, which will begin a week later, on Jan. 26, and run through May 11.

Classroom configurations and class sizes, schedules, and locations will be adjusted to allow for physical distancing in class and the transitions between classes. 

Coverings of the nose and mouth are required. They should be worn by all students and employees in all classrooms, communal areas, and public shared spaces on campus, and in areas where physical distancing cannot be observed. As a courtesy, LVC will distribute one cloth (washable and reusable) face mask to all students at the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester.

Students may not host off-campus guests in their residence hall or house, including in their rooms or communal areas. This prohibition includes short visits, periods of time to study, socialization, and overnight stays. Additionally, LVC students may only enter their assigned residence hall (e.g. they may NOT enter a residence hall in which they are not living). 

Students may socialize only in outdoor public spaces and must maintain physical distancing.

To read LVC's full reopening plan, go here.

Lock Haven University

Lock Haven University announced the decision to move to a mostly remote learning environment for the fall 2020 semester with limited exceptions and limited on-campus residency. This is a revision of earlier announced plans, which relied more on face-to-face instruction and a semi-traditional on campus experience.  

Looking at the recent rapid rise in COVID-19 infections across the country, Dr. Robert Pignatello, LHU president, said LHU has reached the consensus that bringing the entire campus community back – approximately 3,500 students, faculty and staff is, “too risky to undertake.” 

“We are not winning the battle against COVID-19,” Pignatello argued. “Our students come from all parts of Pennsylvania, many from areas where the virus is now surging; they also come from 11 states and seven countries. This reality is of great concern and requires major changes to our operational plan.

"We can do a lot to mitigate the risk, and our original plan did so, but we have concluded that with the entire campus back, we cannot do enough to reduce the risk to our students, faculty and staff and their families, making these revisions necessary.”  

For more information, go here

Millersville University

After initially announcing that face-to-face instruction would begin August 24 and run through Nov. 20, with the last two weeks of the semester, including finals, delivered remotely, Millersville University announced on July 27 that the school would instead hold 80 percent of all class instruction remotely. 

"In light of the continued increase of COVID-19 cases nationally, fall instruction will be provided primarily in online/remote modality," university president Daniel A. Wubah said in a July 27 statement. "Over 80% of the instruction will be offered remotely. This approach may include synchronous teaching and learning where students are required to be present on specific dates and times, and/or asynchronous teaching and learning where students have the flexibility to enter the course when they are able."

Housing at the university will be open, but campus housing will utilize a one-student, one-bedroom approach to prioritize student health and safety and provide adequate social distancing in residence halls, Wubah said. 

"Unfortunately, this approach will also limit the total number of students that we can accommodate in our on-campus housing," Wubah said. "We are therefore offering the opportunity to cancel your housing contract to those students who planned on living in The Villages, Shenks Hall or Reighard Hall.

For more information on Millersville's fall semester, go here.

Penn State University

The fall semester will begin on Monday, Aug. 24, but campus-based, residential instruction will end on Friday, Nov. 20. The remainder of the semester — including final exams — will be delivered remotely and online when classes resume after Thanksgiving break on November 30.

Given Pennsylvania’s county-by-county approach to managing the pandemic, the status of each Penn State campus may vary, particularly for those that may be located in an area of the commonwealth where various restrictions remain in place or may subsequently be put in place due to the number of COVID-19 cases in that region. 

Additional information is available here.

Shippensburg University

In-person classes will run from August 17 through Nov. 20. Courses will offer a model of instruction with the majority of coursework in person, supported by a remote-learning component. 

After Nov. 20, final exams will be delivered remotely from Nov. 30 through Dec. 4. 

In addition, all student's faculty and staff will:

  • Wear face coverings while on campus
  • Sign a pledge to abide by new campus standards to minimize possibility of exposure and to mitigate spread.
  • Use all provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and frequently wash hands and use hand sanitizer to better protect campus life.
  • Embrace social distancing education and abide by revised traffic patterns, social distancing markers, and other certain safeguards.
  • Perform daily “self-checks” to look for common COVID-19 symptoms. Presence of symptoms will activate a layered response and action.
  • Participate as needed in a contact tracing initiative that will respect privacy, but better inform the Commonwealth and local community in case of infection.
  • Participate in staggered scheduling to allow for manageable, socially-distanced traffic in dining services.
  • Residents will enjoy suite-style living, with each suite viewed as a “family unit” in cases of infection, quarantine, and isolation.

More information is available here.

Wilson College

Wilson College President Wesley R. Fugate, Ph.D., announced that for the health and safety of its students, faculty and staff, Wilson College will hold classes remotely for the fall semester. The decision was made in light of the increased spread of the COVID-19 virus nationwide, new guidance and restrictions from the CDC, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the NCAA, and the limited availability of testing.

In making the announcement, Fugate said, “We have concluded, in consultation with faculty senate, that the safest approach is to deliver our curriculum through robust online, remote instruction for the upcoming semester. This decision is an incredibly difficult one to make, but based upon the increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases across the country and the marked impact this is having on college-aged young people, we feel it is the right one.”

For more information, visit https://www.wilson.edu/

York College

Classes begin August 24 and run through Thanksgiving Break on Nov. 24. All other holidays and breaks have been removed from the semester calendar. Once the Thanksgiving Break ends, the remainder of the semester will be conducted remotely.

All members of the campus community are expected to:

  • Maintain social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet.
  • Wear a face covering that covers the mouth and nose any time they may be near other people
  • Wash hands and/or using hand sanitizer regularly.
  • Disinfect personal electronic devices.
  • Wait outside a fully occupied public restroom until someone exits.
  • Follow posted occupancy guidelines for elevators, meeting spaces, lounges, study rooms, etc.
  • Stay home when sick and notify instructors, employers, etc.

More information on the Fall semester is available here.