Like most colleges and universities across the country, we are carefully considering
what living and learning at Juniata looks like in a world dramatically changed by
the coronavirus pandemic. As we assess public health guidelines and work through important issues
to determine how best to provide a full residential liberal arts educational experience, we
are focused on creating as safe an environment as possible. To do this, we are using
the best tools, knowledge, and public health guidance we have available to us, while
remaining flexible and prepared to adapt as new information and technology becomes
Among the public health and safety criteria we are evaluating as we work toward the potential for providing an on-campus experience, we see testing, physical distancing, contact tracing, selective isolation of students who test positive for COVID-19, extensive use of PPE, and a program of increased cleaning of our facilities as essential components of a comprehensive system of virus monitoring and outbreak prevention.
President Troha shared the College’s Fall 2020 academic calendar last week, and affirmed that classes will begin Monday, August 17 on the Juniata campus. It is with excitement that we anticipate gathering our community together, but it will also require personal responsibility, health and safety practices informed by science, and mutual expectations that protect each of us and all of us. Many questions have been asked about the specific decisions and plans made in support of the return to campus, and I will provide details in the linked FAQ, but here’s the basic framework:
- Fall semester classes will begin on August 17th. Before that date, all faculty and staff, and all students reporting to campus will be tested for COVID-19 as we safely repopulate campus. Students will need to complete a travel pre-screening (by July 1st, if possible, or when key information such as visa availability becomes clearer) so that the arrival process can be coordinated with our testing and social distancing protocols. Incoming students will be assigned arrival times, generally from August 10th to 13th. Returning students will be assigned arrival times, generally from August 14th to August 16th, unless individual circumstances or plans warrant an adjustment. Given the NCAA's recent decision to allow for an earlier start to the preseason, fall athletes may be scheduled to arrive as early as August 8th and 9th to begin official team activities as of August 10th. Student-athletes will be notified of their sport’s official return date once the Landmark and Centennial Conference issue final decisions regarding permissible return dates. The travel pre-screening is located in Eagles Nook and additional instructions are HERE.
- For incoming students, inbound and onboarding activities will be scheduled from August 13th to August 16th. Fall onboarding will integrate our fall orientation and inbound activities allowing for students to get to know Juniata’s campus, establish community through social programming and interest areas, and understand Juniata’s community standards. All incoming students not participating in fall athletics will be asked to identify an inbound theme and to arrive during this move-in window. Our August Summer Orientation and Academic Registration session will remain virtual and will be held on August 5.
- Students, along with faculty and staff will engage in arrival and ongoing testing for COVID-19. Our Fall opening plan is grounded in testing, monitoring, tracing, and assessment and isolation of COVID-19 risks. Each student will be asked to complete an [individual safety plan] to inform the process before arrival on campus.
- Reducing our risk requires that the community is well-informed about the science that informs our understanding of the virus, transmission and effective public health and safety practices. The campus will be engaged in education on an ongoing basis.
- Faculty will use the hybrid-flexible model (HyFlex) to craft course plans and syllabi that combine online and face-to-face instruction to deliver course content. Using HyFlex, course progress can be maintained in case of illness or absence, personal health concerns or conditions, or inability to travel safely. Students seeking to consult on the possibility of entirely remote study should share circumstances here.
- Social interactions and the physical space of campus will reflect the need for physical distance. The wearing of masks will be expected; individuals will be expected to contribute to enhanced cleaning protocols; large group activities will be re-imagined; non-essential travel will be discouraged; safety in residence halls will require restrictions on use and occupancy of common spaces, restrictions on guests, and adherence to enhanced cleaning protocols; Baker dining hall will adjust station locations and timing of meals, including assigning dining times and tables to afford access and maintain hygiene protocols; and take-out meals in retail locations like Jitters and BAC will expand in scope and accessibility.
- Students will self-assess health and symptoms daily and will be expected to respond to temperature check and testing requests and procedures. Individuals who feel ill or exhibit symptoms will need to self-isolate and seek consultation with Health Services. In the instance of a positive COVID-19 test, students will follow health directives, their individual safety plan, and assist with contact tracing to identify potential additional exposures.
We know that students and their families are anxious to hear full details about all aspects of the College's Fall 2020 planning and have assembled an FAQ with additional information. We appreciate all of the questions and feedback we receive from our community, and the on-going planning work of faculty, staff, and administration. To that end, we have scheduled a Q&A for MONDAY, June 29 at 7 p.m. to clarify information in this message and the linked FAQ. (Questions may be submitted in advance) to be addressed by the panel and added to the FAQ.