After months of planning and preparation, Keuka College welcomed students back to campus Wednesday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic discontinued in-class instruction last March.
“We put a lot of work into creating a safe, supportive learning environment that can provide students with the on-campus educational experience they’ve been craving,” said College President Amy Storey. “We’re glad this day is finally here.”
Students will continue moving into their residence halls through the weekend – the process was extended to reduce density – with in-person classes scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 24.
Things will look a little different on campus after a summer of renovations designed to promote social distancing, reduce student density, and reinforce public-health protocols. Some of the changes will be immediately evident – like the Keuka College facemasks each student will receive upon arriving on campus. Others will remain invisible – like the bipolar ionization technology attached to the College’s air-filtration system, which emits bipolar ions that attack and vastly reduce coronavirus particles.
“We’ve tried to cover every contingency in ensuring that students could not only return but complete their semester on campus,” said Dr. Christopher Alterio, Division Chair of Applied Health and Wellness and chair of Keuka College’s Reopening Task Force. “A lot will depend on students being mindful about following the health protocols, of course, but we feel like we’ve positioned them to succeed academically – and safely.”
The College’s extensive Reopening Plan includes self-screening protocols for students, faculty, and staff; renovations to incorporate acrylic partitions in classrooms and other areas of interaction; strict limits on off-campus visitations; and mandatory policies regarding face-coverings and social distancing.
The College has also revised the academic schedule to reduce long-distance travel to and from campus for students and, thus, opportunities to spread the virus. The traditional week-long October break has been canceled, as have the Labor Day and Veterans Day holidays. And after heading home for Thanksgiving break, students will complete the final week of the semester and their finals remotely.
“We have the luxury of being in a region with one of the lowest coronavirus-incidence rates in the nation,” observed Dr. Brad Fuster, the College’s Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, citing the fewer than 60 confirmed cases in Yates County since the outbreak. “And the majority of our students live within 100 miles of the College, so we feel confident in our decision to return instruction to campus.”