As Western New York begins to reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Villa Maria College announced students will be able to return to campus for the fall 2020 semester. The semester will begin as planned on Aug. 31.
With what it called “a rigorous set of health and safety measures in place,” the college will resume face-to-face instruction with reduced class sizes and robust hybrid support. Students will have access to all classrooms and labs as needed.
Plans to reopen the campus may change based on guidance from state and local health officials as circumstances evolve.
“Villa Maria College is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all members of the college community,” said Brian Emerson, vice president for enrollment and operations. “The college is taking significant steps to reasonably ensure safety and cleanliness and for all people who come to campus. Expectations may change as circumstances evolve and more guidance from government officials is given.”
Those safety measures include:
√ Social distancing: All members of the college community will be expected to maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from others. Signs, flyers and floor markers will be posted throughout campus to help facilitate social distancing.
√ Reduced classroom capacity: Capacity of all shared spaces will be reduced. Large spaces like the dining hall and auditorium will have a reduced maximum capacity of 25%. Small spaces, like classrooms and meeting rooms, will be set up to ensure physical distancing.
√ Facial coverings: Masks will be worn in shared spaces. The college will give face masks to students and employees at no cost.
√ Daily testing and health screenings: Everyone who enters campus will be required to perform an in-person health screening. Those who are sick will be required to stay home or return home if they become ill on campus.
√ Hygiene and cleaning: The college will adhere to strict hygiene and sanitation recommendations from government health officials. Hand hygiene stations are located throughout each building on campus, and all restrooms and drinking fountains will be upgraded.
With these safety measures in mind, faculty and staff will continue to slowly return to campus over the summer in order to prepare for the fall semester. Villa Maria’s goal remains to provide as much in-person, on-campus learning as health experts and elected officials will allow it to safely accommodate. Regardless, the college said, “Villa Maria will still deliver a highly individualized education in a supportive – and safe – environment.”
Classes will be conducted face to face on-campus and will also have online supplements allowing for a flexible hybrid learning environment. The college will be fully prepared to shift to a fully online learning environment if circumstances require it. In addition, students will be lent or given technology to complete their classes seamlessly for the fall semester.
Villa Maria College’s coronavirus response policies and procedures can be read in their entirely at www.villa.edu/coronavirus.
For more information, call 716-896-0700 or visit www.villa.edu.