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UPDATE: Marietta College plans in-person classes for fall

(WTAP)
Published: May. 6, 2020 at 5:09 PM EDT
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UPDATE 05/07/2020 12:20 P.M.

Marietta College announced Thursday that it plans to reopen campus and have in-person classes for Fall 2020, which includes opening the residence halls and dining services for all 1,200 students.

President Bill Ruud said the College's COVID-19 Recovery Task Force will monitor local and national health trends and make adjustments as warranted.

"We are cautiously optimistic that we will welcome all of our students to campus this fall, and we will continue to follow the guidelines of the CDC and State of Ohio," Ruud said. "Right now, we are in a position to focus on the fall and the best and safest way to resume our residential community and learning. We are also fortunate to be located in Washington County, where we have not been hit nearly as hard as larger communities around the U.S.

"Ultimately, the safety of our students, faculty, and staff is and always will be our top priority."

Marietta College's campus switched to remote virtual learning on March 16 in response to COVID-19 and following a stay-at-home order by Gov. Mike DeWine. At that time, the majority of students moved out of their residence halls and returned to their homes for the remainder of the semester.

President Ruud said the task force will work through the summer evaluating what precautions and benchmarks must be met to successfully open campus on time.

"To achieve our goals and make sure we can safely reopen campus in the fall, our recovery plan must be a comprehensive organizational approach," Ruud said. "We will look to Academic Affairs to quickly develop recommendations for conducting in-person classes, but we also expect they will look to others on campus for help executing those recommendations."

Dr. Janet Bland, Provost and Dean of the Faculty, said this approach will allow the College to accelerate decision-making and allow the College to put a sound and thoughtful plan for the fall in place fairly quickly.

"By initiating this effort now, the College can be ready for the best-case scenario, meaning we are able to come back to in-person classes and activities in the fall," she said. "At the same time, we will also determine alternative plans in case starting in-person learning is not feasible in August."

While all undergraduate summer courses are being conducted online, the College will learn what it looks like to have in-person classes in June when 36 graduate students arrive for the Physician Assistant Studies Program.

"First, this provides us with an opportunity to practice physical distancing and develop the necessary procedures for having in-person classes, and we will be able to use the lessons we learn when the campus population grows to 1,200 students," President Ruud said.

New PA classes begin every June for a 26-month master's degree program. The COVID-19 pandemic did impact the PA Program's Class of 2020 as most of the students had their clinical experiences canceled, but officials remain hopeful that the students will still be able to graduate in July.

Dr. Richard Danford, Vice President for Student Life, said the Community Living staff learned some valuable lessons in the spring when 65 students remained on campus following the shift to online instruction.

"It was a much smaller sample size, but it was a positive experience and we're confident there are some protocols that we implemented - including social distancing and wearing of masks - during the final six weeks of the spring semester that will be helpful to use in the fall," he said.

President Ruud said students and families should keep an eye out for email communication, as well as the College's website (www.marietta.edu). Students and families can also find resources and other updates at www.marietta.edu/coronavirus-update.

UPDATE 05/06/2020 4:09 P.M.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Marietta College has begun a process to move their students out of on-campus housing in a safe and healthy manner.

The process began Tuesday, and will last 12 days until May 17. Students must sign-up ahead of time to move out on one of those days, and will have between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. that day to move their things out.

Among the measures being taken are that no groups of more than 4 people are allowed for moving things out.

There are also not allowed to be more than 3 students moving out on the same day in the same floor or wing of a campus building.

These new move-out procedures could also be put in place for when the school intends to move back in this fall, but according to Dr. Richard Danford of Marietta College Student Life, many students move in at staggered times already.

"The arrival of our students, even under normal conditions, is very spread out anyway," said Danford. "You have different fall sports teams that arrive on different dates for their preseason conditioning."

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