MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Months after the COVID-19 outbreak forced Maryville College to move to distance learning, the school will resume in-person classes and residential living in August, College President Tom Bogart said Friday.
“I am confident that we can safely and responsibly resume in-person classroom instruction and residential living for the fall,” he said in a memo to students.
Among the most significant changes are an earlier start and end date for the fall semester, reduced class sizes and single-occupancy rooms in some residence halls.
The memo also outlines standards for behavior, which includes mask-wearing and physical distancing of at least 6 feet, and new measures taken to comply with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the state of Tennessee regarding cleaning and disinfecting, shared housing and dining.
The fall semester will begin Aug. 19, one week earlier than scheduled, and will not include a Labor Day holiday or fall break. In-person instruction will end and residence halls will close before Thanksgiving, sending students home to take their final exams remotely the following week.
Large classes “will be relocated, broken up into smaller sections, and/or offered in online components,” Bogart said, adding that the College would continue to assist students and faculty members with “the technology and pedagogy required for quality online learning experiences.”
All MC students who live in residence halls with community-style bathrooms will be housed one per room.
“This decision supports an effort to reduce the population in halls, thereby reducing the chances of person-to-person transmission and contamination on hard surfaces like faucets, doorknobs and stairwell railings,” Bogart said. “Single-occupancy living also allows students to quarantine in their own rooms, should the situation warrant it.”
In the memo, Bogart stated that returning students who had previously signed up to live with roommates in suites or apartments with self-contained kitchens and bathrooms would be permitted to live in those rooms but would need to sign a liability waiver.
With the new arrangement, administrators anticipate being able to house all students seeking on-campus housing this fall and still be able to reserve some rooms for students who get sick and require isolation.
Staff members will begin reaching out to residential students next week to make arrangements for move-in.
The College’s main dining room in Pearsons Hall and the smaller Isaac’s Café will reopen with reduced capacity to fit guidelines. Self-service at food stations will also be eliminated.
The College is expecting varsity sport competition this academic year “but with modifications.”
Bogart wrote in the Friday memo that the College was monitoring guidance from the USA South Athletic Conference and NCAA and expected decisions would be made and announced within a few weeks.
“Fall student-athletes should plan on returning to campus by early August,” he wrote, but other campus activities are uncertain.