Grove City College’s faculty is back on campus and ready to get to work in the classroom, face to face again with students after a pandemic-prompted experiment in remote teaching.
Classes begin Monday and they will be held in-person on the residential campus that is home to about 2,400 undergraduate students. Per the College’s Fall Return Plan, teachers and students will be wearing masks and observing a safe social distance inside all academic buildings.
Faculty have been getting ready to welcome students back for months, Dr. Paul Kemeny, dean of the Calderwood School of Arts and Letters, said.
“Many professors put aside their usual summer research agenda in order to prepare their fall courses, which included training to employ new technologies in order to teach students well,” he said. The effort is worth it, Kemeny said, to “see students’ smiling faces back in our classrooms even if their faces are masked.”
Getting professors and their pupils back together was foremost in the minds of the interdisciplinary committee that spent months working on plans to re-open the campus safely and responsibly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The goal is to get students in the classroom again, so they’re face to face with professors and they’re getting what is really distinctive: A Grove City College education with a top notch faculty who have a perspective, a set of values and a world view that really is transformative,” College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 said.
Among the many things that will be the same, but a bit different, for students and faculty is the College’s office hours policy. Grove City College professors are usually required to set office hours each week and actually be present during them to meet with and mentor their students. This fall they’ll have to hold them in a location where they can observe social distance, which rules out some compact faculty offices, or have the option to move them online.
The College has contingencies in place to provide remote instruction in the case of members of the campus community who may be exposed to coronavirus or are at-risk for COVID-19.
The planners also worked on logistics – marked entrances and exits to academic buildings to reduce crowding at class changes, shifting classes to larger rooms and removing some seating from study areas to keep students spread out – and tweaked the academic calendar to reduce the potential for exposure to coronavirus. In-person classes on campus will wrap up just before Thanksgiving break and continue online for a week before finals, which will be taken online about a week earlier than usual.