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Catawba College to Begin Fall Semester Classes Aug. 18

June 3, 2020

Category: Academics, Alumni, Evening & Graduate, Events, Faculty, Staff, Students

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Catawba College announced plans Tuesday to bring students back to campus for the fall semester in mid-August, with the end of in-person classes scheduled before Thanksgiving, according to Dr. Constance Rogers-Lowery, Provost. There will be no fall break, in order to allow for the early end of the fall semester, and final exams will be conducted remotely.

"Medical and public health professionals believe that we could experience a second wave of COVID-19 in late fall or early winter, coinciding with the typical flu season," she said. "Due to that possibility, Catawba will shift the 2020 academic calendar to end in-person classes before Thanksgiving."

In a "Return to Catawba" Plan, fall Welcome Weekend activities will be held on Friday Aug. 14-Monday, Aug. 17, with new students arriving on Aug. 14. All other returning residential students will move in on Sunday, August 16. Fall classes will start Tuesday, Aug. 18. Returning student athletes and students in leadership groups will be told of their return dates by coaches and campus leaders, who will communicate directly with these students. The Opening Convocation will be held in Shuford Stadium on Monday, Aug. 17, at 4 p.m., weather permitting. 

The last day of classes on campus will be Tuesday, Nov. 24. Final exams will be held remotely during the week of Nov. 30-Dec. 4. Other ceremonies, performances, and traditions may be rescheduled, with details to be provided as plans are developed.

Dr. Ken Clapp, Interim President, Senior Vice President and College Chaplain, said, "Current and prospective Catawba students have received good news. After weeks of exploration and planning, Dr. Lowery has sent students a schedule and information for the 'Return to Learning' on campus this fall. Under the leadership of Mr. Drew Davis, Vice-President and Director of Human Resources, planning and preparation will continue in order to assure a safe learning and living environment for Catawba students. Details for extra curricular activities and athletics are still being formulated but the intent is to provide students all the amenities and opportunities feasible under the present conditions and continue to make available the Catawba Experience expected and valued by so many.

“Recognizing the uncertainties continuing to surround us, faculty are spending part of their summer increasing their skills in remote learning delivery should such become necessary at some point, and Dr. Lowery has worked with a group of faculty to have in place optional plans to address changes and still enable Catawba students to stay on track to receive degrees in a timely manner. In the midst of all the work, there is excitement for being able to be together and move forward in meeting educational goals." 

Dr. Jared R. Tice, Senior Vice President for the College Experience and Dean of Students, said, "We know many of our prospective students are still deciding on their choice of college for this upcoming fall. Though this decision has always been a significant moment for each graduating high school or community college student, the COVID-19 pandemic has made this decision even more complex and critical. Catawba is and will be prepared with our "Return to Learn" plan to welcome our new students to campus this fall in a safe and healthy manner so they and their family feel comfortable in their new home - just not for the next semester - but through to graduation."

Dr. Lowery said that as the situation with COVID-19 evolves over the coming weeks and months, college officials will continually revisit the plans and update as needed. "Spending part of the spring semester in remote learning reinforced the importance of close, personal attention in delivering the Catawba Experience," she said. "We are excited that our students will be able to return to campus for mentorship and fellowship.

However, we are taking the necessary steps to make the campus a safe and healthy learning environment. Additionally, we are going to be prepared to continue to offer an excellent educational experience, even if we have to go remote."

Dr. Lowery said that Catawba's goal is to have students on campus as much as possible. "That is where we best deliver our Catawba Experience," she said. "However, we are planning a variety of contingencies, depending on conditions, that allow us to provide an excellent education to our students whether we are on campus or away."

Plans include:

  • Over the summer, faculty will engage in additional professional development in digital pedagogy and remote learning and continue to design excellent learning experiences in an online environment, in case we must go remote at some point during the semester, she said. 
  • Catawba will offer an enhanced selection of online courses for students who need that option. If needed, some courses may be offered in a format that blends in-person and online delivery of course material.

"To mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 on campus, we will work together as a community to adhere to public health recommendations for hygiene, personal protection, and physical distancing," she said.

Safety plans include: 

  • Implementation of daily screening procedures for presence of symptoms indicative of COVID- 19. "If you are experiencing any symptoms, we want you to stay home or self-isolate," she said. "Our faculty and staff will work with students to make up work."
  • Adjustment of class sizes, based on recommendations for safe occupancy and physical distancing. Additionally, the College is exploring options for classes in larger venues, including outdoor spaces. 
  • Implementation of enhanced housekeeping procedures. Restrooms and work spaces will be cleaned according to CDC guidelines, and high-touch objects (such as doorknobs and handrails) will be cleaned with greater frequency. 
  • Additional stations for hand sanitizing will be available in all buildings. 
  • Doors, staircases, and hallways may be marked with directional signage to help with flow of foot traffic and allow for physical distancing. 
  • A requirement that all campus members wear masks in hallways, common areas, classrooms, and other indicated areas. "We acknowledge that this will be an inconvenience; however, masks are our best tools for minimizing potential spread of the virus through respiratory droplets," she said. Masks will not be required in outdoor and personal areas.
  • The Catawba Proctor Health Center is staffed by two registered nurses and offers on-campus physician hours for our students. 

Catawba also has a plan for students who may need additional time and space before returning to campus, she said. 

  • For returning students, the College is offering an enhanced selection of online courses. Students may work with their advisors to explore options that are available to them to make satisfactory progress in their degree programs. 
  • For first-time students who need the option, the College will offer Catawba At Home - the fall semester courses completely online. Cat@Home Scholars will take a special section of First-Year Seminar, as well as several general education courses online. Students will take these courses as a cohort, while participating in enrichment activities that help them connect to our campus community and college experience. 

Dr. Lowery said that over the coming weeks and months, the College will continue to communicate with students and their families to keep them up to date with the latest information and planning. "We will have to continue to be flexible and creative as we deal with the challenges that COVID-19 presents all of us. However, Catawba is excited to welcome you back, and we will all work together as a community to provide a safe and healthy educational environment," she said. 

She thanked the Catawba community for "their perseverance, creativity, and dedication over the past several months "as we all have responded to challenges presented by COVID-19. While the situation has been disruptive and difficult, the community has rallied together in a truly inspiring way," she said.

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