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York College reopening this fall with hybrid learning model

Students walk on the York College campus Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. Enrollment decline has been a reality for colleges and universitiesÊacross the nation, including those in York County. Bill Kalina photo

York College on Tuesday announced its plans for a fall reopening, which will include a hybrid of virtual and in-person learning.

Students will be asked to bring their laptops for blended lessons in each class, but details have not yet been released.

York County is now in the governor’s green phase of the state’s reopening, meaning the campus can have gatherings of up to 250 people, but officials are prepared to make changes as the pandemic evolves.

“We have learned what works virtually and will continue to build on that," said college President Pamela Gunter-Smith in a letter Tuesday.

York College closed March 15 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, following campuses across the state that shut down to hold classes remotely for the spring semester. 

The college joins Penn State University — which announced plans for Penn State York and 23 other campuses last Sunday — in providing details of students' return.

More:Penn State campuses to open for in-person instruction this fall

Much of the school's plans are similar to those of the university system.

At York College, some on-campus instruction will begin Aug. 24 and end Nov. 24 — at which point students will move out of residence halls — with the remainder of the semester online. 

Vacations and holidays have been removed to reduce spread of the virus from travel.

A shortened semester for York College ends Dec. 5.

Social distancing, sanitation and other personal safety measures along the lines of what has been recommended by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be implemented.

This includes additional cleaning, clear acrylic sheets erected in areas with the most social contact, and temperature checks before entering reduced-capacity dining areas, which will have expanded grab-and-go options.

Everyone must wear masks in public spaces and classrooms, which will also have limited capacity, and measures quarantining those with symptoms on or off campus are in place if necessary.

“It is important to state that staying ‘Green’ and not slipping back into more restrictive Yellow and Red Phases requires a concerted effort by all of us," Gunter-Smith wrote.

Since Penn State York is a commuter campus, its plans did not include guidelines for residence halls or related events.

York College noted that students will be permitted to live in double and single rooms, with a staggered move-in process beginning Aug. 17.

To help reduce the potential for outside infections being brought to campus, residential students are asked to remain on campus on weekends

Fall orientation will have a hybrid format, with small in-person meetings and larger events held virtually, and traditional campus events such as bingo, trivia and stress busters will now be held outdoors or be virtually interactive

The college created a Return to Campus landing page for questions that will be updated as more information is available. A series of webinars is planned for reopening

York College plans to release details about the spring semester in the coming weeks.