Centre College announces plans for fall 2020
While the ultimate path of the pandemic still remains beyond the horizon, Centre College is planning to welcome its current and incoming students to Danville this fall for in-person instruction beginning Aug. 26, five days earlier than previously planned prior to the spread of the novel coronavirus. The term will end on Nov. 24, just before Thanksgiving, when students will return home.
CentreTerm and the spring term are still under review.
The decision was based upon what we know today, guidance from experts and government officials, and a view of the virus’ spread. We will be constantly adapting our plans relative to new information and realities.
Flexibility will be key, as our plan may have to be adapted as we learn more through the summer.
The college is also preparing for hybrid components to this plan as needed, since officials anticipate that some students and staff may be unable to join us in-person this fall.
Ten subcommittees spent the entire month of May looking in great detail at every operational area of the college in light of local, state, and federal guidelines for health and safety. Reports were submitted by June 1, and ever since then time has been devoted to reviewing each subcommittee’s detailed analysis to piece together a comprehensive overview of the interlocking components.
At the same time, as a small community relatively untouched by positive cases of COVID-19, Centre has cemented strong relationships with local and state health departments and our regional medical center, Ephraim McDowell Health. This will provide for better access to healthcare, should it be needed, as well as testing and general treatment.
In anticipation of the return to campus, we would remind all members of the community that we each have a responsibility to our own health and the health of each other, and we must commit to following all recommendations and guidelines to realize our shared desire to live and learn together on campus.
This will include a pledge to follow all relevant CDC guidelines as well as local and state recommendations for health and safety, which may include use of PPE beyond just masks in some settings, social distancing, sensitivity to issues of density, and the possibility of a closed campus perimeter.
College officials will manage the fall with testing and tracing, and will be providing additional information about plans for baseline and ongoing testing protocols, use of a COVID-19 tracing app being developed by our ITS staff, increased campus cleaning procedures, the opening of a new seating area for dining, staggered meal schedules, and other similar actions.
Anticipating the potential inevitability of positive COVID-19 cases, officials have also already identified procedures for isolation and quarantine, and have designated residential space approved by local and state health officials for those who may test positive.
The college feels prepared for this possibility, having successfully followed an isolation protocol in early February recommended by the Kentucky Department for Public Health for students returning to campus in late January from parts of Asia.
THE BLOCK SCHEDULE AND COVID-19 SIGNATURE SERIES
When announced on April 20, Centre became one of the first colleges in the nation to imagine an innovative framework for the fall called CentreBlocks. College officials are confident that this block schedule, focusing on just two courses at a time, each over a roughly seven-week period, will help create a new normal for learning and instruction.
The block schedule will not only ease the return to the academic year by reducing anxiety and allowing flexibility in uncertain times but also allows the college to be nimble should there be a need to shift gears, in terms of in-person or remote teaching should circumstances dictate. CentreBlocks fosters a schedule in which faculty will be teaching fewer students in each block, allowing for even closer interaction and personal attention that will help develop stronger bonds in the process. Centre students will have less mental shifting among subjects as a result, reducing stress and helping for an easier transition to the new academic year.
Students were able to select from 27 new or revised courses for the fall that assess the pandemic through specific disciplinary lenses as part of our COVID-19 Signature Series. Whether this is looking at the genetics of the coronavirus, the chemistry of vaccine and treatment development, the history of the Spanish Flu, or the implication of the pandemic for financial models, education, or public health policy, Centre students have myriad ways to explore the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted life as we once knew it.
SUMMER “TEST RUN” FOR THE FALL
For 30 years, Centre has been the proud host of the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program (GSP), the largest such pre-college program in the nation for rising high school seniors. As approved recently by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, Centre will welcome five groups of scholars over as many weeks in groups of 100-125 in a modified summer program starting June 28.
Planning for this is also well underway, and we are confident that the experience will complement our broader planning preparations, since many of the protocols and approaches we are imagining for the fall will get a test run this summer, putting us in a unique position to be even better prepared when our own students return.
Over the coming weeks, more detailed information will be provided about residence life, dining, move-in, orientation, and more. Our Coronavirus Information Center on the Centre College website remains the clearinghouse for all relevant news.
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