MCPHERSON—Students will be able to return to the McPherson College Campus this fall, though the semester will be shortened as the country continues to try and slow the spread of pandemic COVID-19 and waits for a vaccine and cure.


McPherson College recently announced its plans for a condensed fall semester that will begin with on-campus classes on August 17 and conclude before Thanksgiving break on Nov. 24. President Michael Schneider shared information about the college’s plans for the fall in his weekly update to students and families.


“The past several months have taught us that things can change quickly,” Schneider said. ‘We are excited to get students and faculty back on campus and have been working diligently to finalize plans for a healthy and safe return to classes this fall. Our ability to adapt allowed us to move quickly to prepare for the fall semester. The campus has done a remarkable job.”


While McPherson College has maintained its day-to-day operations remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is working toward a gradual reopening of the campus that is consistent with the state’s phased plan to lift restrictions. The college has worked with task forces from across campus and with community partners to develop a plan that focuses on a healthy and safe environment when students, faculty, staff, and visitors return to campus.


Faculty is preparing for several different scenarios that allow classroom and on-campus instruction for the fall. Faculty will be ready to deliver courses in hybrid formats as needed to accommodate for any disruptions to in-person classes. All classrooms, labs, studios, shops, and other campus facilities will be accessible to students provided there are no mandates from local health officials. In the event of health restrictions, the college is prepared to implement social distancing measures in these spaces.


The fall semester will begin with fewer students living in the residence halls and limitations on common spaces as well as practicing important personal hygiene behavior. Residence hall staff will be prepared to implement social distancing with single-point entry, bathroom assignments, and one-way stairwells to prevent the spread of the virus on campus.


The college is finishing a health and safety plan to guide students and staff through the fall semester and beyond, and continues to follow guidance from national, state, and local health officials. Custodial crews began cleaning and sanitizing residential halls, classrooms, labs, athletic facilities, the dining hall, and administrative offices as soon as students were safely off campus using guidelines from the CDC, state, and local health offices. Increased sanitizing will continue as campus reopens.


“After we complete plans that will include advice from health experts and the McPherson County Health Department, we will host a community forum to discuss impacts on the greater community,” President Schneider said.


The college is also working with its campus health clinic partner to assure that students, faculty, and staff will have access to virus testing when classes resume this fall.


There is still some uncertainty about what the fall sports season will look like on all college campuses. McPherson College is working closely with the NAIA to develop plans that provide student-athletes with the best possible experience while minimizing any health risk. The NAIA’s goal is to make an announcement about the fall season by July 1. The college athletic facilities will reopen in the fall as long as there are no restrictions from state or local health officials. Additionally, the college is ready for fan attendance at athletic events as long as there are no restrictions from state officials, local health officials, Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, or the NAIA. The college will also prepare to accommodate capacity numbers that support social distancing if necessary.