University of Lynchburg finalizes fall semester plans


(Image: Courtesy University of Lynchburg)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) – University of Lynchburg President Kenneth R. Garren and President-elect Alison Morrison-Shetlar announced in a campuswide email Monday, its plans for reopening the university for the fall semester beginning on Aug. 12.

The University of Lynchburg’s Opening’s Task Force has lined out recommendations for a phased return of staff and faculty as the summer months progress.

The plan focuses on three key items:

  • Academic calendar, class scheduling and course delivery;
  • Public health and safety; and
  • Extracurricular activities.

The fall semester will begin a week earlier than normal on Aug. 12 and will conclude on November 24.

Due to the shortened calendar, there will not be a fall break and the semester will end just before Thanksgiving.

Spring semester will begin on Jan. 25, 2021 after an extended semester break.

The compressed calendar does not apply to graduate health sciences programs that operate on a year-round schedule or to graduate programs normally offered online.

Fall courses will be delivered both in-person and online and will be designed with a contingency to move online quickly should the University need to curtail normal operations if a surge of COVID-19 cases becomes reality.

Faculty are developing hybrid models that will suit the needs of a variety of classes, according to the presidents.

Regarding public health and safety, a series of best practices will be updated and communicated as information comes to light. Key points include:

  • Campus will reopen in a phased approach;
  • Each department is responsible for developing and implementing an opening plan following the University-wide public health plan to mitigate risk of infection;
  • PA Medicine, Nursing, and the Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) programs will begin classes during Phase II, starting in June. A return to campus for other students during Phase II depends on current guidelines from the Governor’s office;
  • The health and safety plan outlines monitoring protocols that include the completion of COVID-19 screening by all students, faculty, and staff; daily symptom screening and temperature checks; and mitigation strategies. The plan also allows for employees to continue to work remotely and ensures that adequate supplies are readily available; and
  • The plan also includes protocols for containment and surveillance, as well as recommendations for managing a local rebound of COVID-19.

Regarding extracurricular activities and residence life, the Office of Student Development followed the higher education guidelines outlined by the CDC and the ACHA that formulated a plan addressing residential spaces, the possibility of quarantine and isolation, common spaces, access to campus facilities, guests and gatherings, extracurricular activities and programming.

Several areas on the campus have been designated as quarantine and isolation spaces to house students who come in contact with the virus.

Other modifications include:

  • Maximum capacity for common spaces, masks for face coverings, social distancing, and the removal of lounge furniture to discourage gatherings;
  • Access and egress modifications in accordance with CDC guidelines, with doorways identified as entry-or-exit only;
  • Elevators will be limited in use and residential students will only be permitted access to their individual residences;
  • Guidelines regarding guests and gatherings to reduce the potential for congregation include: no more than ten people gathered in one place and a limit of one guest per resident at any given time; and
  • Modified extracurricular activities and programs: Reservation of spaces for small-group gatherings, social distancing for all gatherings, additional live stream options for meetings and gatherings, and limited use of larger spaces. Guidelines for intramural sports, fitness activities and outdoor leadership have been developed in collaboration with Athletics.

Click here for a complete opening plan for the University as well as individual plans for each area that will be periodically updated.

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