From the Desk of the President
June 16, 2020
Hello from the campus of York College of Pennsylvania. Yes, we are opening campus for the Fall 2020 semester, and I cannot wait to see you! For the past several weeks, my colleagues and I have been planning for your return. I want to take a few moments to share with you what to expect when you come to campus. A Return to Campus webpage has been created to answer questions. We will continue to update this page as information becomes available. In addition, we are planning to host a series of informational webinars in the coming weeks. More information regarding the schedule for these will be provided soon.
First things first. The health and safety of our campus community remains our primary consideration. On Friday, June 12, York County moved into the Green Phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan. The Green phase is expected to last until a vaccine is developed and requires that the College follow Pennsylvania Department of Education and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. It is important to state that staying “Green” and not slipping back into the more restrictive Yellow and Red Phases requires a concerted effort by all of us and includes maintaining appropriate hygiene, such as frequent hand washing, wearing masks to protect community members, social distancing, and limiting visitors to the YCP campus.
For Fall 2020, the College will offer a blend of virtual and in-person instruction in each of our classes. (Students are encouraged to bring a laptop to campus.) We will continue to provide high-impact learning opportunities in an environment that connects the best in student-faculty interaction with the best in new technology. Classroom capacity will be limited to provide social distancing.
The Fall 2020 academic calendar is as follows:
- Aug. 22, 2020 – First Day of Fall Orientation for New Students
- Aug. 25, 2020 — Day Classes Begin (Evening Classes Start August 24)
- All vacations and holidays have been removed for the Fall 2020 semester.
- Nov. 24, 2020 — Last Day of On-Campus Instruction; Remainder of Fall Semester Is Online
- Nov. 30, 2020 — Reading Day
- Dec. 1-5, 2020 — Final Exams (remote)
Details for the Spring 2021 calendar will be released in the coming weeks.
Please note that we have shortened the fall semester to decrease the likelihood of a disruption due to a resurgence of COVID-19 on campus. Evening and day classes will commence on Aug. 24 and Aug. 25, respectively. Classes will be held on Labor Day, and the traditional Fall Break is eliminated. We ask that residential students remain on campus during the weekends and that all students avoid traveling to areas where COVID-19 might be more prevalent. The last day of on-campus classes will be Nov. 24, 2020, after which residential students will vacate the residence halls. Students will return home for Reading Days and Final Exams, with the semester ending Dec. 5.
All student support services will be available (Health Center, Counseling Services, Academic Advising, Career Development, Student Accessibility Services, Tutoring and Writing Assistance) to students throughout the semester.
Fall Orientation for New Students will be Aug. 22 to 24, 2020. Orientation will occur using a hybrid format, with small in-person meetings and large virtual programs. Student Activities and the Campus Activities Board are planning a variety of events and engagement opportunities for the fall semester. To meet social distancing requirements, events will be a combination of virtual and in-person, smaller-scale programs open to all students. Rest assured that activities will continue to happen, regardless of circumstances. We have learned what works virtually and will continue to build on that.
Some things to note: Campus traditions such as bingo, trivia, stress busters, etc., will still occur with a new twist – many will be outdoors or virtually interactive. Campus Recreation will provide fun competitions and themed recreational activities. Most will be virtual. Student organizations will continue to operate with meeting and event attendance restrictions.
Commuters will, as always, be included in all events and engagement opportunities.
I anticipate that decisions regarding athletics will be made shortly. Our conference athletic directors and presidents have been meeting to discuss pending issues and potential schedules. Coaches will keep student-athletes informed on the status of fall sports. Under the Green Phase, all gatherings are limited to 250 people.
Residence Life will continue offering double and single rooms to students in campus housing. Students who selected spaces with roommates will remain in those assignments for the upcoming academic year. Additionally, new students who requested to be placed with roommates will be placed accordingly whenever possible. The move-in process for fall semester will be a staggered, weeklong event beginning Aug. 17. Students will sign up for a specific date and time block to move into residence halls. Updates and information will be shared with students in mid-July once housing assignments are finished and billing statements are issued. Decisions regarding the early return to campus by special groups – student-athletes, Engaged Scholars, etc. – are still under consideration.
Health and Safety
We are committed to keeping our campus community healthy. Outside visitors will be limited. All residence halls, other campus facilities, and shuttle buses are currently being sanitized and disinfected in anticipation of reopening. Additional cleaning will occur, especially in common areas. Plexiglass barriers are being erected in areas having the highest potential for social contact. Temperature checks will be conducted upon entering our dining facilities. Here, too, capacity is being reduced and carryout and grab-and-go options are being expanded. Everyone on campus will be required to wear masks when in public spaces, including classrooms. Our Director of Health Services is in contact with our local public health office. Should a student display symptoms associated with COVID-19, appropriate procedures will be followed including on- or off-campus quarantining, if necessary.
I have outlined a few of the steps we are taking to open campus for the Fall 2020 semester. There are more in progress as our planning continues.
An important aspect of a York College experience is our strong sense of community. This develops from the interactions that take place among community members both on- and off-campus. Relationships formed here last a lifetime. Returning to campus this fall is important to all of us. We can only do so if we maintain a safe campus environment. I cannot stress enough that our ability to open and to remain open requires your cooperation in adhering to standards and guidelines imposed by our "new normal." We are in this together and we will adjust to our "new normal" together.
Pamela Gunter-Smith, Ph.D.