McDaniel welcomes students back for the fall 2020 semester with restrictions

Students will be able to live and study on campus during the Fall 2020 semester (Marya Kuratova / McDaniel Free Press).Students will be able to live and study on campus during the Fall 2020 semester (Marya Kuratova / McDaniel Free Press).

On June 18, the Return to the Hill Committee released their plans for the Fall 2020 semester via email to all McDaniel students. “We look forward to welcoming you back to campus this fall even as we recognize that the coming year will look different than previous years,” the email read.

Students will move on to campus between Aug. 14- Aug. 19, and classes will begin on Aug. 20. Unlike previous years, classes will be held on Labor Day and there will be no fall break in Oct. In order to end the semester before flu season starts and eliminate the impact of holiday travel, classes will end on Nov. 20 and the semester will end entirely on Nov. 24.

“Though the total number of instructional days for undergraduate students has been reduced, the number of class hours will be the same to ensure the quality of the academic experience,” the email said.

In addition to a shortened semester, fall 2020 classes will be divided into two 7-week academic sessions. “Instead of taking all of your classes across the normal 15-week period, you will be taking half of your courses during Session A and half of your courses during Session B,” read the email to students.

“This change will help students manage multiple modes of instruction in a smaller number of classes while significantly decreasing the number of students you will interact with in classes over the course of the week,” the email continued.

In order to keep students and faculty safe, McDaniel will offer three different types of classes: traditional in-person classes, hybrid classes, and online classes. Most 1000-level classes will be held in a hybrid format, while the majority of classes at the 2000-level and above will be mostly online.

Outside of the classroom, new safety measures mean that residence life and other facilities will change, too. Students will be able to reside in double and single rooms, but triples and quads will not be utilized for student housing.

“Per Governor Hogan’s orders, all members of the McDaniel College community—faculty, staff, students, visitors—will be required to wear facial coverings when inside buildings and residential common areas,” the email said.

The committee has also drafted a list of housing policies and restrictions that can be found here. Some of these restrictions include assigning residents to a specific shower stall, bathroom stall, and sink and asking them to wipe down those surfaces after every use.

The College recognizes that changes to the fall semester may impact whether or not students live on campus or not, and all students who planned on living on campus must fill out a survey confirming their fall housing plans by July 10.

With regards to campus dining, students will be encouraged to utilize take-out ordering since fewer students will be able to utilize traditional dining services all at once. Students “will be introduced to a new app that will allow you to reserve a time at your preferred dining location,” the email described. The Hilltop Pub in the new Student Center and additional options for outdoor dining will also assist with physical distancing measures.

All student support centers, including the Bursar’s Office, the Center for Experience and Opportunity, Financial Aid, Hoover Library, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Registrar, Student Accessibility & Support Services (SASS), Student Engagement, the Wellness Center, will be available to students in online or in-person capacities.

The College is partnering with the Carroll County Health Department and LabCorp, a local testing facility, to offer testing on campus and support should any student contract COVID-19.

In an attempt to cater to the strong sense of involvement on campus in clubs, organizations, and athletics, the new academic schedule includes a daily Activity hour for students to partake in these activities. The College is still awaiting a final decision by the Centennial Conference regarding what conference competition will look like in the fall.

Despite these regulations, tuition and room and board charges will not change for the 2020-2021 academic school year. However, all students on a McDaniel meal plan will receive double the amount of McDaniel Bucks for the fall semester.

The email pledges to provide students with more information as the summer progresses, and it exclaims gratitude for the McDaniel communities’ resiliency and commitment.

“We are excited to return to campus and will be ready to meet this moment with a shared promise to behave in ways that protect the health of each student, staff and faculty member,” the email closes.

More information can be found on the Return to the Hill web page.