Pace University announced Tuesday it will begin the 2020-21 academic year on Aug. 24 with a combination of in-person, online and hybrid learning and complete classes in time for the Thanksgiving break.
A joint letter from President Marvin Krislov, Vanya Quiñones, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and Brian Anderson, director of emergency management and environmental health and safety, outlined a list of regulations and safety protocols for students, faculty and staff to follow. The schedule will affect all three of the university’s campuses – Pleasantville, New York City and the Elisabeth Haub School of Law in White Plains.
“We are determined to provide our students with the high-quality educational experience they expect while protecting health and safety for everyone in our community, including students, faculty, and staff,” the letter stated.
Pace also announced that a coronavirus coordination officer will be appointed to serve as a point of contact for all students, faculty and staff to manage testing, tracing and response efforts. The officer will also coordinate with public health officials.
All final exams will be administered remotely from Nov. 30 through Dec. 5.
The letter stated that ending the semester on campus by Thanksgiving will comply with public health guidance. It is to avoid dispersing students, faculty and staff across the country before they return to the campus, which could potentially contribute to spreading the virus. The letter did not address how Pace will handle the spring semester.
According to the plan, critical operations staff and research personnel will return to campus on June 29 and student-facing staff and those necessary to prepare residence halls for student arrivals will start returning July 6.
Then full faculty and staff will begin to return to campus on Aug. 10. There will be a target of 25 percent overall occupancy on each campus. That target will be achieved with a mix of remote work for some, in-person attendance and staggered scheduling.
Students may begin arriving at the dormitories as early as Aug. 14 with social distancing protocols being followed, the letter stated.
All members of the Pace community should be tested for COVID-19 before they return to campus. There will be ongoing health monitoring of everyone on campus. Those who test positive may not come onto campus and should consult a healthcare provider. That would require 14 days of isolation, and three days without fever or fever-reducing medication, before returning to campus, according to the letter.
There will be random temperature checks conducted and everyone on campus will be required to conduct daily self-monitoring for symptoms, using the CDC questionnaire this summer and via a Pace mobile app beginning in the fall. Anyone reporting symptoms will be referred to healthcare at Pace or their own healthcare provider. Approved visitors to campus, including vendors and contractors, will be expected to follow these procedures.
Various factors will help determine how many students will attend the in-person classes, including the size of the space and the types of classes, said Pace spokesman Jerry McKinstry.
Any student uncomfortable with attending in-person classes may take their courses remotely.
“I think the goal is to offer (classes) in person and remote to whomever is comfortable doing either, and in some cases, that will be simultaneous,” McKinstry said. “In some cases, there will be certain classes that will be only offered remotely.”
There are also protocols for managing, cleaning and disinfecting all spaces at Pace.
The Pace Board of Trustees approved the reopening plan proposed by the COVID-19 Task Force, which studied multiple options for three months searching for a safe return to campus this fall. It includes recommendations from the CDC, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities and the American College Health Association and will be submitted to New York State.