Grove City College students will be returning to campus for the fall semester, while Slippery Rock University is conducting classes via remote instruction for most students.

Classes at GCC are set to begin Aug. 24, and a planning committee has been working to ensure a safe and productive semester, according to a letter to students from college President Paul McNulty posted July 23 on gcc.edu

Circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic keep changing, and the college had been working with Allegheny Health Network to establish policies and protocols.

Students will receive a screening survey via email from from the medical testing lab Quest Diagnostics to determine risk for the virus.

If a student is selected for testing as a result of the survey, Quest will mail a COVID-19 test kit, which must be completed with the guidance of a medical professional through an online appointment.

Students who live in virus “hot spots” will not be required to quarantine, but they may be selected for testing.

Those who test negative will be allowed to arrive on campus as scheduled. Positive results mean the student must meet certain conditions and be evaluated again by a health professional.

Students who plan to live on campus are asked to self-isolate for five days before coming to the college. The move-in process will be staggered.

Students must sign a “community agreement” that acknowledges their willingness to support the college’s prevention policies and procedures.

In the fall of 2017, the college introduced five core values including “community,” and there has since been an increased emphasis on the need for “community,” McNulty said.

He hopes the college will demonstrate what one community can accomplish by God’s grace.

Once the semester starts, students may leave campus, but they must make “wise decisions” about where they go and what they do.

In accordance with state mandates, mask and social distance protocols will be in place at the college. Each student will receive a face mask.

There will be random virus testing, and school officials will be on the lookout for symptoms of the coronavirus.

Students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving break. There will instead be one week of online classes starting Nov. 30.

To replace instructional days Dec. 7 to 9, classes will be held on Labor Day and Nov. 23 and 24. The Oct. 15 and 16 fall break is canceled to limit student travel out of the area.

Alternative days off will be announced, most likely Oct. 2 and Oct. 13.

The college’s final plan for the semester was expected to be completed this week. Updates are posted online at gcc.edu

McNulty asked the students to pray for the college community and encouraged them accept the changes so that everyone can prosper.

“I am highly confident that God will bless us in the unprecedented endeavor, and I look forward to seeing you soon,” he wrote.

At SRU, most students will be continuing with online instruction. The comprehensive fall reopening plan can be found online at sru.edu

There will be a limited number of students living on campus, intercollegiate athletics will be suspended, and many students activities will be conducted in a virtual environment, according to a July 23 letter from SRU President Dr. William Behre.

In a letter dated July 27 sent to students, Behre said that because the trajectory of the pandemic is less promising, more adjustments have been made to the reopening plan.

SRU had hoped that certain courses could be conducted in-person, and the number of those courses have dropped in favor of using an online format.

That will let the university drastically reduce the number of people gathered in one place. If a student’s class schedule is all online, Behre encourages them to avoid living on campus.

The Bailey Library, the Smith Student Center and the Aebersold Recreation Center will remain open with limited occupancies. Outdoor recreation facilities are available.

Student fees for activities, the student center and recreation have been cut by half for the 2020-21 school year.

Those on campus will be responsible for wearing face coverings, practicing proper hygiene and social distancing, and avoiding off-campus situations that may bring the virus to campus.

“I’d like to thank all of you for your goodwill and flexibility as we have adjusted to the constantly changing landscape presented by the coronavirus,” Behre wrote. “We hope that this move creates just a bit of certainty during this otherwise uncertain time.”

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