A Villa Maria press release sent Monday began, “August is quickly approaching, and the college is excited to welcome all students, faculty and staff back to campus for the fall 2020 semester.”
Villa Maria will begin the fall 2020 semester as planned on Aug. 31, and college leadership has spent the summer months preparing to ensure all students receive the same personalized, hands-on academic experience to which they are accustomed, in an environment that has been optimized for the safety of the entire college community.
“The safety of our students, faculty, and staff members is our paramount concern,” said Dr. Matthew Giordano, Villa Maria’s president. “We are fortunate to have a very safe campus – we have lots of space in which we can spread out and reduce population density. Our cleaning staff has stepped up their protocols and they are ready to keep our campus clean.”
“Our faculty have been working hard all summer to be ready for the start of classes,” Giordano continued. “The classroom experience will be a bit different, to be sure. Classes will meet face-to-face, but they will also include online components. Students and faculty members will be wearing masks, and classroom capacities will be reduced. If, in the unfortunate event it becomes necessary to move our classes completely online, students can be assured that they will continue to have a high-quality educational experience, as we learned from the spring semester and have had the summer to prepare.”
Some of the new safety measures students can expect to see on campus in the fall 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.
√ Facial coverings: Masks will be worn in shared spaces. The college will give face masks to students and employees at no cost.
√ 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 meetings rooms, will be set up to ensure physical distancing.
√ Cohort-style classes: Many classes will be placed into cohorts, or small groups. A class that normally meets on Tuesday and Thursday may only meet as a cohort one of those days, with half the class present in-person at a time. Student schedules have already been updated and are available on D2L. Student schedules have not changed. The cohort will meet on the same days and times they were expecting, but the method may be different.
√ Tech Lending Program: The press release said, “When we had to unexpectedly transition to distance learning last semester, Villa Maria lent out computers and other technology to over 25% of its student body. The college’s tech lending program will extend to the fall semester, with junior and senior students in technology-driven programs being lent a computer to take home this fall. Students in all grade levels and programs who have a need for a computer but struggle to afford one will be given or loaned one, too.
“With the addition of all these new safety measures, plus additional measure details in the reopening video below, campus is sure to look and feel a little different than it has in the past. Regardless, the college will offer the same caring, supportive, and welcoming atmosphere as always.”
This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYmT4wpovd8) details the Villa experience students can expect to see in the fall. All members of the Villa community are encouraged to watch the video in its entirety. Brian Emerson, vice president for enrollment and operations, should be contacted with any questions about the fall 2020 semester.
The college has also updated and expanded its coronavirus response policy and procedures, which can be found online at https://villa.edu/coronavirus.
The press release said, “We look forward to welcoming students back to campus on Aug. 31 for a productive and safe fall semester.
Buffalo’s Villa Maria College is a private, Catholic college, founded in 1961 by the Felician Sisters.
For more information, call 716-896-0700 or visit www.villa.edu.