NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.-- Going to college this fall during a pandemic raises a lot of questions for undergrads. Some Westminster College students are concerned about opting for virtual classes, where and how they will eat meals, Covid-19 testing on campus and if boyfriends and girlfriends can visit dorms.
On Tuesday, Vice President and Student Affairs Dean Gina Vance answered those questions and several others in an Instagram story. The College's shared the video on its official account, where it also solicited the questions as part of a follow up and student outreach following the publication of the Westminster Reopening Plan.
Dean Vance stressed the importance of communication and working with Westminster staff and faculty was important for everyone's health and safety. There were a total of 16 questions fielded by Vance. You can watch the video here or review the transcript below.
Instagram Question #1(IQ): Any rules/regulations for working off campus?
Gina Vance (GV): For work off campus, we are not regulating that. Just asking you to be communicative and responsible. Be safe. Follow your work protocols and make sure that you let us know if you're feeling ill.
IQ #2: Are there options for students who don’t feel comfortable coming back into class?
GV: There are a couple of folks who asked about virtual classes for this semester, and that is an option. You need to email Faith Craig, give her a little bit of an understanding of your situation, and she'll work with your faculty to set that ufp for you for the semester.
IQ #3: How’s eating going to work? Will we have to take our food to our dorms, or can we eat in the tub?
GV: Lots of questions about dining, and I'm not surprised. Lots of information about dining available in an email that I sent last Friday, so take a look there, but quickly, less seating in all of the facilities, online ordering available at the tub, to-go containers used at both facilities so that you can quick and easy take your food with you if there isn't available seating. So, to sum it up, it is going to look different, not your usual fun and congregational place, but we really hope you'll take advantage of outside locations to eat together as you normally would inside.
IQ #4: Do football players still move in August 8 even though the season was postponed?
GV: For questions about athlete moving, we've kept those move-in dates the same despite Friday's side news about the postponement of your seasons, so the dates that you've already been notified for moving are still your move-in dates.
IQ #5: What is the definition of “family pods” and how strict are the rules around them?
GV: Family pods are defined by rooms surrounding a shared bathroom facility, so if you're on the first floor of Galbreath, all the rooms that are sharing that bathroom are part of the family pod. Most of the questions we received are about family pods. And so Eichenhauer and Berlin family pods are surrounding a bathroom, so there's in essence no more than four people in a family pod and are different and other residence halls.
IQ #6: With the family pods, can I add a person like my boyfriend or girlfriend that attends WC?
GV: Family pods are strictly defined by your housing assignment and your bathroom assignment. There will not be additions or deletions from those family pods based on relationships and friendships.
IQ #7: How will classrooms be cleaned? What will happen if we have an outbreak?
GV: I'll answer this in two parts. Physical plant will come in and clean the classrooms twice daily with a heavy disinfectant. Each classroom will be supplied with the disinfecting kit that students and faculty can use in their own space. For an outbreak, we expect that we would shelter in place, but doing that here on campus and moving to virtual education while everyone stays here on campus.
IQ #8: How is contact tracing ever going to work on our highly interconnected campus?
GV: Contact tracing is doable if we stick within the family pods and follow the guidelines that we've set forth on campus. When we don't, it will become more challenging.
IQ #9: If I contract COVID-19 and recover, will I be treated differently on campus?
GV: The college community will be notified if a student tests positive for COVID, but not the identity of the student. That remains confidential. And so, my hope is that students will treat others with respect no matter what.
IQ #10: How can upperclassmen support the incoming freshmen this year?
GV: Our orientation team is well prepared to welcome our first-year students. But I hope that our upper-class students will do what they always do and just help, listen, and guide along the way.
IQ #11: Who do I contact if my professor is consistently unable to have office hours with me?
Of course, office hours and individual meetings are going to look different this year than they might have in the past, so patience while we work out kinks and then communicate with folks around you who can get you assistance. I'm happy to help if you need it.
IQ #12: Will professors still show grace to students during this continuing uncertainty for all?
GV: Your experience has been that our professors are always extending grace to students. I would say that will remain true. We do not want sick students in a classroom, but communication is key.
IQ #13: Will the masks provided by Westminster have the logo/the Titan on them?
GV: Residents will get COVID care kits at move in, commuters and off campus students in your mailboxes. You will have two masks in there, and then sadly, neither will have a logo on it.
IQ #14: How are you going to reinforce social distancing?
GV: As a campus community, we hope that we hold each other accountable, ourselves and one another, for being physically distanced and following the guidelines. If someone cannot, we ask for you to get help from a faculty or an employee.
IQ #15: If both students live in singles, are they able to visit each other’s dorms?
GV: Probably the biggest challenge for students this year is going to be the visitation policy, and please know that I understand that, but we needed to put it in place to keep you all safe. Visitation is re stricted to only the members of the family pod.
IQ #16: Are we able to opt for all online classes?
GV: As I mentioned before, if you're looking for a virtual or online semester, please contact Faith Craig via email.
IQ #17: Will Covid-19 testing be provided on campus?
GV: The wellness center will be prepared to do testing on campus. We will collect the specimens here. We will send the tests out. At this point, we are only testing symptomatic students.