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Students returning to Centre campus

Centre College students have returned to Danville, but their college experience will be altered due to the college’s plans to help keep the students, staff and community safe from COVID-19.

Chief Communications Officer Michael Strysick said, “We developed a four-part testing protocol that requires a pre-test, testing on arrival, surveillance testing once here, and contract tracing testing as needed. We also have a Social Contract students must sign and an anonymous reporting tool.”

Before coming onto campus, students will be required to agree to the terms of a Social Contract “to follow a series of measures and actions designed to protect the health of the campus,” according to the college’s website. These include limiting exposure, engaging in social distancing and masking in accordance with public and College guidelines and monitoring their health and symptoms. 

“The Social Contract signifies your commitment to protecting the health and safety of the Centre community so that we can be together on campus for as long as possible. If you are not willing to agree with the terms of the Social Contract, you may register as a remote learner for the fall term and live off campus,” according to the website.

“The local community should be assured that we are taking every precaution from a health and safety standpoint, informed by guidance from local, state, and national sources. We will have a no-visitor policy on campus as well, trying to create a safe ‘bubble,’” Strysick explained.

Total enrollment this year is 1,350, with 352 first-year students moving into their dorms Friday and Saturday. All other students moved into their residence halls on Monday and today (Tuesday.)

“According to a survey, we anticipate 89 percent (of students) will be on campus,” Strysick said. All residence halls and sorority and fraternity houses will be occupied, but will be at about 11% less capacity, he added.

Students have been assigned specific days and times to move into residence halls in order to avoid large groups of people coming together all at once. The tradition of having college staff and upperclassmen helping move in first-year students will be abandoned this year.

Instead, all students are urged to only bring what fits into one vehicle and that can be easily moved by one person. However, two family members can help with move-in day if needed. They’re also asked to not bring any heavy or bulky items that can’t be moved easily by one person “should we need to send everyone home quickly,” the guidelines on the website states.

Students are also asked to bring their own thermometer for daily health checks, at least two cloth masks, an overnight bag and supplies to be used in case the student has to be quarantined or isolate on campus for three days, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, and a folding outdoor chair and blanket that can be used for outdoor classes and social gatherings.

Centre is asking all students to limit their travel off campus. And they should avoid dining in restaurants, spending a long time in stores and being around large groups of people, such as at festivals, campaign rallies, demonstrations and religious services.

However, “To enjoy and support the local restaurants and stores who appreciate Centre students as customers,” they are urged to order online and use curbside pickup.

School organizations will be required to follow all guidelines and limit gatherings to 10 people, practice social distancing and wear face masks. No off-campus visitors will be allowed this term, including family members. Fraternities are to follow the same guidelines if they choose to host parties.

When classes begin on Aug. 26, the new college president Milton Moreland will have in place a “maximum flexibility” approach that allows students and faculty to have a choice between teaching or attending in-person classes or remotely, or a combination of the two, Strysick said.

Nearly 23 weeks ago, on March 15, retired Centre President John Roush announced that the upcoming spring break would be extended one week and students were asked to leave campus immediately because of the pandemic. At that time the administration had hopes that students would be able to return to in-person classes before the end of the semester. However, students were never allowed back on campus and had to finish the semester remotely, online.

Even though students are moving back onto campus and in-person teaching is about to begin, Strysick said this new school year, “Nothing’s normal.”