BREAKING: SRU releases initial plans for fall 2020 semester

Plan subject to change in response to rise of COVID-19 cases

Published by Nina Cipriani and Joe Wells, Date: July 15, 2020
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Editor’s note: Changes were made to the spelling of a dorm building to correct misspelling and APSCUF to provide clarification. 

UPDATE (July 27, 11:45 a.m.)

SRU President William Behre estimates that 20% of course offerings in the fall semester will be in person, according to an email sent to SRU stakeholders Monday morning.

“Early in our planning, I had hoped that conditions would allow us to have about half of our courses in person,” Behre said. “Today, I expect that figure to be about 20%, which will be comprised primarily of specialized clinical experiences; courses that require equipment only available on campus; and/or for those courses that involve hands-on experiences that cannot be readily replicated online.”

Behre added that students should check their schedules by logging into their MySRU accounts, as some courses that have been previously listed as multimodal may have been converted to a fully online format.

In the emailed statement, Behre encouraged residential students with a fully online course schedule to withdraw their housing applications.

“The housing staff will be prioritizing our limited availability to those students who live far away and need to be physically on campus,” Behre said. “Withdrawing your on-campus housing application – if you don’t absolutely need to live on campus – will help facilitate this process.”

Behre also stated that there will be a 50% reduction to the student activity, student center and recreation center fees. SRU’s tuition will not change for the 2020-21 year.

ORIGINAL STORY (first posted July 15, 8 p.m.)

Students and faculty will be returning to SRU a week earlier than expected for the fall 2020 semester, but current plans aim to limit face-to-face interactions as much as possible on campus by delivering courses in distance and multimodal fashions.

The plan is a “living document” that will change as the situation changes and new information presents itself, SRU President William Behre said in an email regarding SRU’s return in the fall. 

SRU will implement a low-density in-person model based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that reduce classroom capacity to 80%.

Behre said the university is finalizing a contract with a local healthcare provider that will be available for students and faculty to consult with. They will assist with determining thresholds for making major shifts, Behre said.

Jason Hilton, Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) president, said SRU-APSCUF and administration are working together to ensure safety for students and faculty, while ensuring a high quality education.

“At this point this means we are moving additional classes fully online to cut down on the numbers of students present,” Hilton said. 

Classes will begin Aug. 17 and end the week before Thanksgiving, Nov. 20. There will not be a fall break this semester. Students will not have class on Labor Day, Sept. 7. 

With the multimodal approach, courses will limit in-person class time and supplement it with a mixture of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and D2L. The goal of multimodal is to allow a seamless transition should the campus shut down like it did in March.

Behre said finalized changes to course schedules are expected by Friday. 

For the second year in a row, tuition will be locked at the 2018-2019 rates. SRU is also reducing the student activity fee by 25%, as they are expecting less students on campus.

Behre said the university will be operating at a deficit again with loss of revenue but will utilize reserve funds and limit some expenses to tackle the issue.

Any gathering of more than 11 people, whether planned or not, will be considered an event that will require all participants to be tracked by name and phone number. Events are limited to 40 people on campus regardless of the venue.

With the country, including Slippery Rock, seeing protests over the past few months, Behre said the university will work with organizers. He said there is also an appeals process for events that may want more than 40 attendees.

To keep face-to-face interactions to a minimum, the university will require faculty to maintain virtual office hours and recommend testing and exams be conducted through secure online methods. Students attending in-person classes will be provided a face mask from the university.

Face masks and coverings will be required in all areas of the university. However, masks are not required when individuals are:

  • Alone in their private workspace
  • Alone in a residence hall room
  • Eating or drinking
  • Driving alone in a university vehicle
  • Outdoors, unless near others where physical distancing cannot be maintained

Students are expected to begin moving back on campus Aug. 10.

Students living in the Rock Apartments will move in from Aug. 10–12. The Rock Apartments will be at full capacity.

Students staying in the residential halls will be allowed to move in from Aug. 13–16. Residential halls A, B, D, E, F and Watson will have reduced capacity, and North and Rhoads Halls will have rooms converted to single occupancy.

Access to student housing buildings will be limited to only residents of that building. No guests will be permitted.

On campus dining will be open but at a reduced capacity for seating. In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, many options will be grab-and-go, and self-serve stations will be replaced with staff members. 

The reopening plan states that AVI staff will provide enhanced sanitation and hand sanitizer stations at all facilities.

Dining halls will still accept cash but encourage patrons to utilize touchless payment methods. Those with meal plans are able to use the GET app for scanning of their student ID barcode.

Masks will also be required in all dining facilities until seated.

Students on campus will still have access to the Happy Bus, but it will be operating at reduced capacity. There will be no late night or weekend shuttle service offered.

The shuttle will now run Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The shuttle will also operate Monday through Thursday in the evening from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Nina is a freshman majoring in communications: converged journalism. She has always wanted to be a journalist. In the beginning, around elementary school, she wanted to become an author and write a New York Times Bestseller. But since then, she has taken many English and journalism classes, and so her views of becoming that bestselling author altered dramatically. During high school, she was on the school newspaper staff freshman year to senior year. She also was the Editor In Chief of her high school newspaper during her senior year. As for her goals currently, she aspires to become a journalist for The New York Times. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music and watching Netflix, but specifically Friends. She is thrilled to be The Rocket’s assistant news editor, and she can’t wait to see what SRU has in store for her in the future.

Joe is a senior communication major with a concentration in converged journalism. This is his first year with The Rocket as assistant news editor. Before joining The Rocket, Joe worked at Butler County Community College’s student newspaper along with a short-lived career as public affairs sergeant (along with many other assignments) with the United States Army. When not covering campus news, Joe spends his weekends with his fiancée and son in Slippery Rock.

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