Fall Classes Resume On Campus on August 24, 2020

Dear Fellow Golden Rams,

I hope this email finds you well and that you are staying healthy. We have missed seeing you and we are eager to re-engage with you. In that spirit, I am pleased to announce that West Chester University will reopen on time on August 24th. Our classes will be offered with a combination of in-person and remote delivery in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. We will also welcome students back to campus in our traditional and USH housing, planning for utilizing full capacity, although we will implement modifications in support of the safety of our students, faculty, staff and community. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, preserving the health of our community remains a priority and guides all decisions. The return to campus means everyone in our community must adapt to a “new normal.” Adjusting to this new normal will include the following responses for the fall semester: 

  • All students and employees must wear face masks. We will be providing all students and employees with two WCU reusable face masks. 
  • On-campus fall classes will feature both in-person and remote components.

    Based on Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) guidelines, we are finalizing the process of working toward a hybrid on-campus fall semester. This modified model will mean that all regularly scheduled classes will have in-person and remote components. The in-person component will have less crowded classrooms, which will be simulcast for students whose health does not allow in-person attendance. In addition, protective measures are being put in place in classrooms that create appropriate distancing not only between students and faculty members, but between students themselves. In the event that a faculty member cannot provide in-person instruction or if the semester is disrupted by the pandemic, students will still be able to complete their courses via Zoom or another remote application, similar to the transition that occurred in the spring.
  • Fall Break will be moved from October to November.
    Fall Break will move from October 12-13 to November 23-24, in order to minimize travel from and returning to the University campus. This will also support the transition to fully remote learning for the remainder of the fall semester. 
  • Transition to remote learning beginning Monday, November 30th
    All in-person instruction (including final exams) will transition to remote learning on Monday, November 30th. This will help us to minimize COVID-19 exposure risks from travel and proactively prepare for a possible resurgence. Please note that we will make adjustments to dining, housing, and other student fees impacted by the shift to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester or impacted by CDC guidelines around social distancing.  
  • Planning on transitioning all faculty office hours and student advising to remote interaction (i.e. Zoom meetings).
  • All non-instructional meetings among faculty, staff, and students will be conducted remotely (i.e. Zoom meetings). CDC as well as Commonwealth phased opening guidelines for other gatherings will be followed, and we will update the campus community as these guidelines evolve. 
  • Co-curricular student activities will follow social distancing measures and guidelines will be in place for non-instructional student facilities (i.e. Sykes Student Union, Student Recreation Center, Lawrence Dining Hall, etc.)
    Resources and guidelines will be provided for students to utilize spaces on campus that follow CDC guidelines, according to the phases of opening directives from the state at that time. Facilities like Sykes Student Union, Student Recreation Center, and Lawrence Hall will be operating at lower capacities to comply with state and local health guidelines. Large gatherings and events will continue to be significantly curtailed through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • We will continue enhanced sanitization, enhanced social distancing and technology upgrades.
    • Cleaning and sanitation efforts throughout campus have been increased to meet appropriate CDC guidelines.
    • Classrooms and general meeting rooms are being re-organized/rearranged to aid in social distancing, including adding markings to the classroom floors to denote acceptable/safe social distances.
    • Classrooms and general meeting rooms are being upgraded with technology (audio and video) to allow for concurrent in-person and remote learning wherever possible.
  • We will decrease the number of staff on campus on any given day.
    Just as we are working to provide for social distancing in our classrooms, we are working to decrease the number of staff members in offices on any given day. Using a rotation schedule, we will ensure that we are providing in-person service, while providing for social distancing for our employees. 
  • COVID-19 Testing
    We are working on partnerships with community resources and developing protocols that will direct students and staff to appropriate health care and testing options as needed. We will monitor and update these protocols as guidance evolves. 

Details about re-entry plans to campus will be provided in the next few weeks, including fall move-in details. We continue to work with our shared governance members, union leadership, student leaders and employees to ensure a safe learning and work environment that maintains academic rigor, provides accessibility for all, and ensures the success of our students.

The success of West Chester University as an institution is built on the students, faculty, and staff within our community. It is with this same focus that we now prepare for the coming academic term. 

I look forward to seeing you soon,

Christopher Fiorentino
President 

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