YSU releases plan for fall semester amid COVID-19 pandemic

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This was the first in a series of social media live presentations about what's ahead for Fall Semester 2020

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Wednesday, Youngstown State president Jim Tressel announced a plan to get the university up and running again in the fall. It might not be full speed ahead, but it’ll at least have some semblance of what college should look like.

YSU’s campus has been quiet since mid-March — but that’s about to change.

“Fall semester starts August 17. We can’t wait to get back here, we can’t wait to see your smiling faces,” Tressel said in his address Wednesday.

Tressel announced five different class methods:

  • Traditional: Completely in-person on campus at regularly scheduled days and times.
  • Agile-hybrid: Students attend some classes on campus at regularly scheduled days and times. Remaining class time is a combination of videoconferencing, recorded lecture or other instructional activity.
  • Virtual: Students attend all classes at regularly scheduled days and times, but will have the option to attend a combination of classes on campus or through videoconferencing. Students could choose to only attend through videoconferencing.
  • Online live: Completely online classes that students attend at regularly scheduled days and times through videoconferencing. Instructors could choose to use a combination of videoconferencing, recorded lecture and other instructional activity.
  • Web-based: Completely online classes with no set day or time. Students do not need to come to campus.

Each of YSU’s 4,000 fall classes will be given one of these designations, which is subject to change. Students will see what type of class each of their classes is designated as on their schedule.

Those initial class designations will come Monday, but students should keep checking that up until the start of the fall semester because the class designation could change.

Tressel also introduced what’s being called the “For Pete’s Sake” program to keep people safe. It includes students six feet apart in classrooms, mandatory mask-wearing and 10 handwashing stations around campus.

Other key parts of the plan include:

Face coverings: Students, faculty and staff must wear face coverings at all times in campus buildings, except when working alone within an enclosed area.

Social distancing: All areas of the campus, including classrooms, will be set up to ensure a minimum of six feet between people at all times.

Campus buildings: All campus facilities have been inspected and approved by the YSU Office of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety as per federal and state guidelines and safety and health guidelines established by the university.

Health assessments: Students, faculty, staff or anyone else coming to campus should perform daily health assessments.

Handwashing: 10 mobile handwashing stations have been installed across campus. Disinfectant wipes/sprays will be provided in classrooms.

Contact tracing: The YSU EOHS has established contact tracing and support protocols if a member of the campus community tests positive.

Residence halls: Will open at reduced capacity, modifying several double-occupancy rooms to single rooms for students seeking additional distancing measures.

Bookstore: Barnes & Noble YSU Bookstore encourages students to purchase books online.

The YSU Return to Campus for Classes Fall 2020 plan asks all students and employees to sign onto the Penguin Protection Pledge, promising to help keep the YSU community safe from the coronavirus. The full plan, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions, is available on the YSU Coronavirus Information webpage.

“Our goal is that you’re safe, YSU campus is safe, the employees, the faculty, staff, students, the community is safe. That’s obviously goal #1,” he said.

Even with the changes in class types and the focus on safety, Tressel doesn’t want to lose sight of students getting an education.

“We want to progress. We don’t want our degrees slowed down. We want you folks to keep moving toward your degree, and have you continue to grow as people and be great, responsible citizens as you go out from here and become the future leaders of our world,” he said.

Tressel ended with questions, many of them pertaining to popular programs on campus. He said if they can be done safely, they will continue.

He said disinfectant wipes and sprays will be provided, and everyone will be responsible for wiping down their desks and work stations.

“While this plan is the culmination of much thought and consideration, we also know that it is likely to change as our understanding of the continuing pandemic evolves,” Tressel said.

As of now, students will not be required to quarantine if they live in a different state but that could change.

The guidelines were developed after weeks of research and discussion across campus, in consultation with state and federal health agencies and after hours of talking to officials at other public universities across the state.

To keep students, employees and the campus community as up-to-date as possible, Tressel is planning to host additional social media town hall-type meetings leading up to the start of classes.

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