Marywood announces plans for Fall 2021 semester


Photo credit/ Briana Ryan

Marywood is returning to a some-what sense of normalcy for the Fall 2021 semester

After a year and a half of offering classes online with in-person enrichment sessions under the Hybridge model, Marywood University will discontinue the Hybridge model and offer classes fully in-person for the Fall 2021 semester. This move is the first major step the university is taking toward normalcy after the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am hoping the fall semester will look like the fall semester of 2019 in that we will have our classes in-person,” said Marywood President Sr. Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D. “It is possible that we will still have to be separate in the classrooms in terms of spacing and it is possible, at least for the first semester, that we will have to wear masks, but at least we will be there.”

Persico also said that professors will also be offered plexiglass dividers for their podium and desks if they would like and, if the CDC guidelines say it is possible, the university will change the social distancing rules to be 3 feet apart instead of 6 feet. She also wants to have as many in-person activities as possible.

Provost Dr. Christina Clark said that although the HyBridge model will be discontinued for the whole university, it is up to the faculty to decide how to hold their classes in the fall.

“Faculty always, of course, have the academic freedom to offer classes in [the] hybrid [format] and some of our programs are [already offered] online so they have the academic freedom to offer classes in the program in an online format,” said Clark.

Clark also reassured that the buildings will be back to a normal closing schedule. She specifically mentioned how hard the buildings being closed early for cleaning was on music and art majors who did not have the supplies they needed to do their homework in the comfort of their dorms. Cleaning crews will still be around, however their cleaning routine will no longer be as rigorous as it is now.

Marywood’s study abroad program will also be making a comeback in the fall semester, though students should pay attention to the travel rules in the countries in which they intend to study.

“It is looking like a lot of countries will be mandating proof of vaccinations to come into their countries,” said Clark. “Students will need to keep aware of the [rules in the] countries in which they are planning to study abroad because that could be changing rapidly as the summer progresses.”

Dean of Students Ross Novak said that some of the rules put in place for students’ safety during the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020-2021 school year will change while others stay the same. The main rule changes involve housing.

This year, most of Loughran Hall was set up differently, with the double rooms only holding single students, triple rooms only holding two students and quads only holding three students in order for every roommate to stay six feet apart from each other.

Novak said that next year, Loughran Hall will go back to regular capacity at 328 students, Madonna Hall will stay the same except the five person suite will go down to four people and Regina Hall and the Woodlands Apartments will all return to their normal setups. Madonna Hall, Regina Hall and the Woodlands Apartments, however, will still have rooms set aside for any student who needs to be quarantined.

As for conduct rules, Novak said they will be following the national and state health officials recommendations on what they can and cannot allow students to do.

“Marywood’s policies won’t be any less stringent than what’s in place and recommended by the CDC or the state of Pennsylvania,” said Novak. “But depending on the scenario, we could have more restrictions in place. That’s not final at this point and we still don’t know what is going to continue to change between now and when we open.”

In the case of visitors in on-campus housing rules, Novak said that the university is differentiating between “visitation rules” and “guest rules,” with “visitation” applying to Marywood students in other residence halls and “guests” applying to off-campus students, whether they be from Marywood or somewhere else.

“So right now, the plan would be to allow for visitation,” said Novak. “However,at this point ,we are still looking, at least for this first part of the academic year, to not permit guests into residence halls beyond the designated lobby areas or 24-hour-lounges in Loughran [Hall].”

As for the vaccine, Persico said that the school cannot require everyone to get vaccinated prior to returning to campus but will require a negative COVID-19 test.

“We have pretty much decided that we can’t make anyone get a vaccine,” said Persico. “But we are strongly, strongly, strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. Not only that but we will have clinics on-campus for people who want to be vaccinated.”

Persico said she hopes that for the Spring 2022 semester, students will be able to remove their masks. She said the school will watch the number of cases closely and follow CDC guidelines to determine when it will be safe to make that call. As for now, they will continue doing whatever they can to keep people safe.

Persico is continuing to assure students that all classes will be offered in-person and that they no longer have to worry about doing class online.

“If anyone is thinking about staying away because they don’t want to do this again, I would strongly encourage them to [rethink that] and plan to return because we’re going to do everything in our power to make it work,” said Persico.

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