As the rest of the nation still roils with cresting waves of COVID-19 outbreaks, New York — once the center of the pandemic in the Western hemisphere — is entering into Phase Four of its reopening plan. As part of that plan, higher education facilities are permitted to begin reopening on-site learning and management, recalling students and faculty from more than half a semester of online-only learning.
The New York State Department of Health has already issued guidelines for schools to reopen, including mandatory face masks in all common areas (other than dorm rooms), health screenings (daily for employees on campus, periodically for students), frequent cleaning and disinfecting, and strict rules for the care and sequestering of any person who tests positive for COVID-19. Beyond those measures, however, precise safety measures are being left up to schools. Here’s how each of Westchester’s colleges and universities are handling the reopening process:
Berekeley’s White Plains Campus will begin its fall 2020 semester on September 8 with all-online classes, while the school’s Manhattan and New Jersey locations adopt a hybrid approach of on-site and online learning. Facilities will remain open for staff. Existing nursing and healthcare students will be completing their in-person practical requirements at Berkeley’s Woodland Park, NJ campus prior to the semester’s start.
Students at the out-of-county locations will encounter enhanced sanitation and safety protocols including mandatory mask usage and social distancing. A small number of students in White Plains’ Sussex residence hall will be permitted to remain in campus housing for the fall semester, however the Cottage Place residence will be vacated, and no new students will receive student housing until at least the spring term.
A small, private college in the heart of the county, The College of Westchester offers many career-focused tracks. After more than a hundred years of serving local students with both day and night classes, TCW canceled all campus activities back on March 11 and switched to exclusively online learning on March 13 “until further notice.”
As of May 28, there is currently no new information on when on-campus learning may resume.
The former pre-seminary school in lower Westchester, the now coed and diverse student body at the Lutheran college can look forward to returning to campus for the fall 2020 semester, beginning August 24.
Like many local schools, the new semester will blend in-person and online learning courses to help reduce potential viral spread. Classes will then continue without a break until Thanksgiving, when students will return home. The remaining two weeks of the semester between Thanksgiving and winter breaks will then be conducted entirely online, though the campus will remain open to commuting students and resident students who require it. All exams will take place online. The school’s nursing students will have small lab groups along with online lectures. Accelerated Degree Programs will begin in July.
Athletics will be planned and scheduled, and engaged as public health allows. All community events for the semester will be canceled. Offices will remain at 50% capacity with many staff members continuing to work from home.
In what was once the epicenter of Westchester’s historic COVID-19 outbreak, Iona College is planning to reopen for its fall semester on August 10. Classes will be held in a similar fashion to other local schools, with hybrid online/-in-person classes being held through November 23, however this will be the end of the semester, three weeks earlier than typical of the school’s calendar.
All students and faculty will be tested for COVID-19 before the semester. And daily temperature checks the school has also partnered with Montefiore Hospital nearby for additional testing and care throughout the school year.
Residence halls will be limited to a maximum of two students per room, with distancing measures in communal areas and reduced capacity in lecture and dining halls. Most staff will continue working from home, and athletics will be determined as more information becomes available.
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Manhattanville will begin its fall semester on campus August 31 and, like many other local colleges, in-person classes will end November 23 for Thanksgiving recess. Afterwards, students will not return to campus and the remaining three weeks of instruction will be completed remotely. Classes will be formatted with remote-learning options as well live options.
Safety measures will include face coverings, social distancing and reduced class sizes, testing and tracing, symptom monitoring and reporting, heightened sanitation, and more. Daily health checks may be implemented as necessary. Athletics are slated to begin under state and NCAA health guidelines. Student life activities are being retooled for social distancing, while dining halls and dormitories will likewise be reconfigured. (Students with single-room suites will only be charged a double-room rate.)
Mercy’s five schools will begin their fall semester on September 9 and run through December 23 with Thanksgiving break November 25-29. Classes will be held both online and in hybrid classes that are held in person but also live-streamed for distance-based students.
Faculty will return to campus ahead of the semester in phases. Masks, sanitizer, and distancing will be required of all students and faculty, with added distancing measures being taken in communal and classroom spaces. Dining halls will operate similar to New York restaurants: 50% capacity for indoor dining along with takeout and outdoor seating. Fitness center access will be reinstated pending state determinations as to suitable health requirements. Outside/overnight guests must be pre-registered, fill out the same self-screening assessment as students and staff, and will not be permitted to stay in residence halls overnight.
Community events will likewise continue as planned, with distancing and increased virtual experience options added. Athletics will continue as per NCAA and ECC plans for their respective season.
Pace will begin its fall semester on August 24 with a combination of in-person, online, and hybrid classes. Students will leave for Thanksgiving by November 24 and not return to campus, rather conducting their finals online from November 30 through December 5, the last day of the semester.
The return to campus will begin in phases, with essential staff returning first, followed by residential life and student-facing positions, and on-campus students moving in beginning August 14. All students and faculty must complete online health training prior to returning to campus.
Face coverings and social distancing will likewise be enforced, along with provision of additional sanitizing stations and 25% room capacity in all classrooms and lab spaces. Dining halls will eliminate self-serve options, reduce capacity, and sanitize every 30 minutes. Residence halls will feature reduced capacity and group residents as “Family Units,” which may dispense with social distancing guidelines when together. Guests will not be permitted, nor will visitation between dorm rooms (even on the same floor).
NCAA sports will proceed with their seasons, for the time being. The fitness center, however, will remain closed
Students at Purchase College will experience a school year similar to their friends at other nearby schools, with a fall term beginning August 31 with nearly all classes conducted remotely. (A small number of face-to-face classes are currently being reviewed.) Students will leave campus for Thanksgiving break, returning online-only from November 30 through finals week (December 14-18).
In addition to requiring face coverings, cleaning, distancing protocols, and daily health screenings with temperature checks, the college will also limit its on-campus resident population to just 1,000 — those who cannot commute and whose programs absolutely require face-to-face instruction. This policy will allow the school to socially distance dorms and facilities. Dining halls will operate with limited and distanced hours, while Terra Ve, Starbucks, and The Hub will remain closed for the term. The library will physically be closed but will offer online services. The Loop shuttle will discontinue service, though the county may be able to increase Bee Line service.
All fall sports have been canceled, though training for club and school sports, as well as the gym, will remain open.
The new term at Sarah Lawrence will begin on Monday, September 7 almost entirely online (excepting primarily First-Year Studies courses, which will attempt to have in person instruction when possible, but which will also provide remote learning options). Instruction will resume exclusively online following Thanksgiving break, and students who left campus will not be permitted to return. The last day of classes will be December 18.
In order to strictly reduce housing residency and provide better social distancing, first-years and incoming transfers, RAs, and students with demonstrable hardship will be given single-occupancy rooms in campus dorms if they wish. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors may enter into a lottery for any remaining rooms, while students living off-campus but nearby will receive campus access. Cleaning and distancing practices will be enforced in common areas, including dining halls. Students who will be on campus must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 14 days prior to arrival. Students and staff will likewise be required to take daily self-monitoring checks, and facial coverings will be mandatory.
All campus sports have been canceled for the semester, though training support will be available until the spring term.
Multiple locations throughout Westchester
The county’s largest college system typically serves 13,000 undergraduate students. Most classes this semester will turn to synchronous learning, with students meeting online at specified times. Others will be asynchronous, conducted at the students’ leisure, while a small few in predominantly medical and engineering tracks which require specialized equipment or on-site instruction will continue with social distancing measures in place.
Heightened sanitization efforts will be in effect combined with recently added touchless technologies on campuses, new ventilation systems, online library support, and other structural and organizational improvements.