SRU developing plans to increase on-campus operations for fall 2021 semester
Slippery Rock University is developing its plan for increasing in-person, on-campus operations for the fall 2021 semester, including all first-year students living on campus if they choose and activities that follow public health and safety protocols.
Dec. 10, 2020
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Slippery Rock University is developing its plan for increasing in-person, on-campus operations for the fall 2021 semester. While the spring 2021 semester will follow the fall 2020 model that included approximately 80% of classes being offered online, students enrolling for the fall 2021 semester can expect a different experience compared to the first full academic year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're excited to take these steps toward restoring our vibrant campus life as we continue to adhere to public health protocols," said SRU President William Behre. "This takes a lot of effort by our entire campus community to offer our students the best education and college experience possible while also maintaining a safe environment during the pandemic. A thorough plan and execution for the fall 2021 semester takes months of preparation, but we're encouraged by the path ahead and what we're able to confirm now."
SRU's plan for the fall 2021 semester includes the following for first-year students and transfer students who are at a first-year level:
- At least two classes offered in-person, which could increase should conditions surrounding the pandemic allow.
- On-campus housing for all those who prefer to live at SRU.
- A variety of on-campus cocurricular and entertainment programs in formats that limit large gatherings and allow for physical distancing.
"We recognize that prospective students and their families have had to overcome a lot of challenges in recent months, and as they are making college decisions now, it can be difficult to know what to expect," said Amanda Yale, chief enrollment management officer. "Our goal is to have a more typical college experience for students despite the pandemic, with a focus on increasing on-campus classes, services and student engagement activities with full consideration given to virus mitigation efforts."
During the 2020-21 academic year, approximately 700 students lived in SRU residence halls, which is about a quarter of the number of students who typically reside on campus. Although there were 240 confirmed cases of students having contracted the virus during the fall 2020 semester among the more than 8,000 SRU students, on campus and off, the University did not experience any on-campus outbreaks.
"Everyone in the campus community has experienced disruptions and has had to adjust in a short period of time because of the pandemic," said Abbey Zink, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "As we prepare for the fall 2021 semester, we're taking a measured, but optimistic approach to the way we offer in-class instruction and learning experiences."
Currently, there are seven working groups of SRU faculty, staff and administrators that have been established to address pandemic-related campus operations. These committees, which are now addressing plans for the fall 2021 semester, include: academic planning, facilities planning, technology planning, residence life/housing, testing/vaccination planning, emergency management protocols, and communication.
Student engagement and on-campus activities is also an important initiative. According to Dave Wilmes, chief student affairs officer, the types of events for fall 2021 will include those taking place outdoors, such as drive-in movies, musical performances, trivia games or other activities under tents. Also, there will be indoor events with a cap on the number of students who can attend, such as events related to arts and crafts or small group discussions.
"What we will offer all depends on the status of the pandemic, but we've had success experimenting with different types of smaller or outdoor events (this fall)," Wilmes said. "We will increase the frequency of these events and continue to tweak programs for next fall to establish a hybrid approach with some in-person elements and some virtual opportunities."
For more information and ongoing updates about the fall 2021 semester, visit the Life at SRU webpage, which includes links to the Housing webpage, to learn more about the different types of housing available on campus, rates and fees and how to apply; as well as other links related to safety, student activities and health and wellness. Information about applying to SRU or scheduling a campus visit is available at sru.edu/admissions, by calling 724.738.2015 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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