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COVID-19: Vassar College Reveals Plans For Bringing Students Back To Campus

Vassar College has a plan for reopening in the fall.
Vassar College has a plan for reopening in the fall. Photo Credit: info.vassar.edu

Another Hudson Valley college has announced its plans for reopening its campus for the first time since March in the fall as New York recovers from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The plan for Vassar College in Poughkeepsie is calling for the arrival of small groups of students to campus on staggered dates beginning on Saturday, Aug. 15, with classes beginning on Monday, Aug. 31.

Students who are unable to return to campus or who choose not to do so will be able to take courses remotely. 

According to Vassar President Elizabeth Bradley, the college will be employing a combination of regular self-health assessments, physical distancing, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting, masking, testing, contact tracing, self-quarantine, and isolation to help prevent any spread of COVID-19.

Before being permitted on campus, students must show evidence of a negative coronavirus test result taken within five days of their arrival at Vassar. Students will be required to be tested on campus within the first five days of moving in and will be tested again several days later.

Students and staff will be required to wear face coverings at all times outside of their dorm or apartment, and must stay at least six feet apart from each other when socializing. Dining will be “grab-and-go” only for at least the first part of the semester.

Classes will be held in classrooms and outside when appropriate with adequate technical support and accessibility using tents and awnings, all with social distancing protocols in place. 

Classrooms will be equipped with technology to support hybrid classes that are taught both in-person and remotely. Students must remain on campus until the Thanksgiving break, then complete the last week and a half of fall classes, study period, and final exams remotely. 

Students will then remain off-campus for the Winter Break and return for the spring semester in late-January.

“These are uncertain and perilous times, which deeply affect our students, families, employees, and communities,” Bradley said. “Most unnerving is the truth that this pandemic will not end soon, and no one can predict when it will end.

“Amid this uncertainty, we need to act. We will be doing all we can to reduce risk—through daily monitoring, extensive testing, immediate contact tracing, and self-quarantine and isolation—and we will work hard to give students the experience of being part of a community bound by an important and united purpose to show there is a path forward, a way to grow in a time of uncertainty.”

Bradley, who has been serving on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York Forward Re-Opening Committee made note that “in New York State, and particularly Dutchess County where we are located, the incidence of COVID-19 is extremely low, achieved through strict norms of wearing masks, social distancing, and a careful opening up of the economy”

“We have a challenge ahead of us; coronavirus will be a threat to the world for an extended and indeterminate period of time,” she said. “Learning how to live together and pursue our education while also staying safe and healthy is critical for all of us and the broader community.”

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