YSU releases Plan to Return to Campus for Classes, Fall 2020

Youngstown State University announced today that students will return to class for the Fall semester on Aug. 17 with a combination of face-to-face on-campus classes, online off-campus classes and a hybrid mixture of the two.

The YSU Return to Campus for Classes Fall 2020 plan also includes rules for face coverings, social distancing, daily health assessments and contact tracing. The plan also asks all students and employees to sign onto the Penguin Protection Pledge, promising to help keep the YSU community safe from the coronavirus.

“Our primary goal is to ensure everyone’s well-being while continuing to offer high-quality, faculty-engaged instruction,” YSU President Jim Tressel said.

Tressel introduced the plan during a Facebook and YouTube live presentation Wednesday afternoon. The full plan, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions, is available on the YSU Coronavirus Information webpage.

“While this plan is the culmination of much thought and consideration, we also know that it is likely to change as our understanding of the continuing pandemic evolves,” Tressel cautioned.

A key part of the plan is how courses will be delivered in the Fall semester. In March, in the middle of the Spring semester, all YSU on-campus classes were transitioned to off-campus remote delivery due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the outbreak still spreading, YSU deans, department chairs, faculty and other experts began to assess each of the 4,000 classes scheduled for the Fall and to determine the safest and most effective delivery methods for the courses. Each class has been assigned one of five modalities - Traditional, Agile-Hybrid Campus, Virtual Campus, Online-Live and Web-based – ranging from traditional face-to-face classes on campus to fully online classes off campus.

“Kudos to the many talented, innovative staff and faculty on campus who worked incredible hours to put together a whole new instructional approach for the Fall semester,” Provost Brien N. Smith said. “We are committed to ensuring that students receive safe, quality and faculty-engaged instruction through any of these approaches.”

Other key parts of the plan:

Face coverings: Students, faculty and staff must wear face coverings at all times in campus buildings, except when working alone within an enclosed area.

Social distancing: All areas of the campus, including classrooms, will be set up to ensure a minimum of six feet between people at all times.

Campus buildings: All campus facilities have been inspected and approved by the YSU Office of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety as per federal and state guidelines and safety and health guidelines established by the university.

Health assessments: Students, faculty, staff or anyone else coming to campus should perform daily health assessments.

Hand washing: 10 mobile hand-washing stations have been installed across campus. Disinfecting wipes/sprays will be provided in classrooms.

Contact tracing: The YSU EOHS has established contact tracing and support protocols if a member of the campus community tests positive.

Residence halls: Will open at reduced capacity, modifying several double occupancy rooms to single rooms for students seeking additional distancing measures.

Bookstore: Barnes & Noble YSU Bookstore encourages students to purchase books online.

The guidelines were developed after weeks of research and discussion across campus, in consultation with state and federal health agencies and after hours of dialogue with officials at other public universities across the state.

To keep students, employees and the campus community as up to date as possible, Tressel is planning to host additional social media town hall-type meetings leading up to the Aug. 17 start of the Fall semester.

The YSU Coronavirus Information webpage also includes information on Return to Work on Campus guidelines for employees, an archive of coronavirus-related messages that have been sent to the campus, and information about the “For Pete’s Sake” campaign to keep the campus community safe during the pandemic.