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'Get Ram Ready!': Shepherd University to open in-person for fall semester
July 31, 2020

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SHEPHERDSTOWN -- On July 8, Shepherd University announced its decision to open for the fall semester, with in-person classes, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the proclamation of Gov. Jim Justice's executive order last Friday, Shepherd has been given the go-ahead to open with certain safety guidelines in place.

According to a Shepherd University press release, a number of measures will be taken this fall, to ensure students' safety and make social distancing possible.

"Everyone -- students, employees and visitors -- will be required to wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth in all public spaces on campus, including outside," said SU Communications Department Staff Writer Cecelia Mason. "Cleaning across campus will be continual and will involve daily sanitizing applications.

"Campus buildings have signage indicating what doors are entrances and exits, which stairwells are to be used as up or down passageways and what the capacity and protocols are for using elevators in order to observe social distancing," Mason said, mentioning people on campus will be systematically checked for coronavirus symptoms. "Students will be required to have their temperature taken upon arriving to campus at one of several locations across campus. All employees must take their temperature and fill out a health form within 30 minutes of arriving at work."

According to Mason, classes will start on the previously planned date of Aug. 24. However, to limit the likelihood of spreading COVID-19 through travel during the semester, the university will not hold in-person classes after Thanksgiving break. Instead, it will use some minor holidays for in-person classes before the break, and after the break will conduct classes and final exams online.

"To ensure social distancing, classes will be smaller and classroom usage has been adjusted for reduced capacity," Mason said. "There will be an increase in online and hybrid courses and other innovations to reduce on-campus classroom capacity. Seating plans for classrooms, labs and conference rooms are being developed to provide de-densification and social distancing. There is also flexibility in class scheduling for students who prefer online only courses and for those who prefer in-person courses."

Residence hall life will also have some social distancing changes, according to Mason.

"All rooms will be single occupancy, unless two students request to room together," Mason said. "It is anticipated that two family members or friends will be able to assist students with the move-in process, and face coverings and social distancing will be required. During the semester, there will be restrictions on guests in residence halls rooms, and food service will offer several take-out options throughout the day."

For the university, making these plans has not been an easy task, and the implementation of them will be even more challenging. However, the university says it has high hopes that its students will prepare ahead of time for the change, or as they call it, "Get Ram Ready."

"Please remember, each of us must be a part of the plan and the solution," Shepherd University's Communications Department wrote. "Without each of us doing our part, the plan will not work. Our motto for this moment is, 'Get Ram Ready,' and so we must do just that!"

To learn more, visit www.shepherd.edu/getramready.

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