ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The university will start its fall semester on Aug. 24, one week earlier than originally scheduled. Dr. Dennis DePerro, the university’s president, announced the change Tuesday. The new fall schedule also removes the Oct. 13-14 fall break. On-campus instruction will end on Nov. 24, and the fall semester will continue on Nov. 30 with three days of online-only instruction, a reading/study day and five days of online final exams. 

“After consultation with the Board of Trustees, faculty and administrators, we’ve determined that a change in the fall academic calendar is prudent,” DePerro wrote in a statement to the campus community. “As has been the case since the COVID-19 pandemic began, causing an unprecedented interruption in the lives of almost everyone on the planet, the health and safety of our campus community remains our highest priority.”

DePerro said the university’s complete reopening plan will be released in late July. However, he laid out a list of initial plans, and made it clear that for this school year to work, all members of the campus community must be “committed to acting selflessly and abiding by the health and safety protocols we’ve established with guidance from the county and state Health Departments.”

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Those initial plans include: 

Mandatory COVID-19 Testing

  • Within 14 days of returning to campus in August, students must undergo COVID-19 testing, then upload their results to the student health portal on my.sbu.edu. Those who test negative will be permitted to return. The university will "work with" any student who has difficulty obtaining a test near their home, according to Chief Communications Officer Tom Missel.  

Move-in and Move-out Days

  • The move-in schedule will be staggered. All freshmen will arrive on Aug. 21; all transfers will arrive on Aug. 22. Freshman and transfers will receive their move-in times when they receive their housing assignments on July 31. 

  • Returning students with the last names A-L will return on Aug. 22 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

  • Returning students with the last name M-Z will return on Aug. 23 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

  • Further details about move-in day swill be released on July 31. 

  • With few exceptions, all students will have to leave campus by Nov. 25. Students will not be allowed to return to campus until the spring semester begins (TBD). 

Arrival Screening and Weekly Screening

  • Students must complete pre-arrival screenings no more than 48 hours prior to arrival. Results of the screenings will be routed to SBU Health Services for review. Any student who indicates a possible COVID-19 infection will not be allowed to return until further notice. 

  • In addition, every Wednesday during the fall semester students must complete health screenings that monitor symptoms, exposure and travel history.

  • Employees will need to compete a screening each day before arriving on campus. 

Positive Tests and Exposure During the Semester 

  • Students who test positive for COVID-19 or show symptoms during the semester will be required to quarantine in an isolation room on the first floor of Doyle Hall. At the discretion of the Cattaraugus County Health Department, roommates and close contacts also may have to isolate. Students living in group settings (on-campus apartments), who are asymptomatic or have yet to test for COVID-19, will be required to quarantine in their rooms. Those students also may elect to return home. 

Face Coverings 

  • Unless a student is in their room with their roommate, a residence hall bathroom or seated in a dining hall, they must wear a face covering at all times. Seats in classrooms and other campus spaces will be six feet apart to ensure social distancing can be practiced. Each student will receive a face covering at the beginning of the semester. 

Classroom Details

  • SBU has identified large on-campus spaces, including galleries in the Quick Center, large meeting rooms and event spaces, which will be used for classes to ensure social distancing. Some course meeting times will be adjusted to better spread meetings over the day to minimize densities in the buildings at popular teaching times. 

Online Course Work

  • Some professors have elected to teach their classes in a hybrid fashion, meaning some students will come to the classroom; others will remain in their living spaces. Students in those classes will rotate from in-person instruction to online instruction throughout the semester. Faculty members teaching in labs will also teach in hybrid fashion. 

  • Some courses will remain fully online to accommodate faculty members who are at high risk for COVID-19. 

  • SBU urges students to check their course schedule on mysbu.edu before the semester begins. 

Scheduled Fall Gatherings 

  • Decisions regarding fall gatherings, including Family Weekend (Sept. 26-27) and the Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony (Oct. 10-11), will be made later this summer as the university receives additional guidance from New York State on crowd limits. 

As of Tuesday, 93 COVID-19 cases have been counted in Cattaraugus County. Four cases are active; four people have died. 

“Precautions might be inconvenient at times, but they are a small sacrifice and part of our responsibility as a campus community to watch out for each other,” DePerro said. “Our Franciscan tradition calls us to take care of those who are most at risk. Following the reopening guidelines is just one way for us to strengthen a community built on our values of compassion, wisdom and integrity."

He continued, “I know these are uncertain times, but what I am certain of is how diligently our staff has worked these last several weeks to develop a plan that gives us the best chance to have a safe and successful fall semester.”

University officials will conduct Zoom meetings in August to answer questions and concerns the campus community may have about reopening. Campus community members who have urgent questions are asked to email sbuinfo@sbu.edu.

This is a developing story and updates will follow.

Related story: NY Travel Restrictions Could Could Impact Returning Bona Students

For more information on the Coronavirus in the Greater Olean area, visit TAPinto Greater Olean's Coronavirus Updates page, which is updated continuously.

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