Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students are practicing social distancing measures in the classroom to control the spread of the virus. Classes are taking place in a variety of formats including completely online via Zoom, in person, or a hybrid of the two.
Decisions about the format of the class is based on student and professor needs, as well as the size of the class.
In larger classes where the hybrid model is being used, students have been split into two groups labeled A and B. One group goes to class while the other uses Zoom, and they switch each day class is in session.
To avoid students spreading germs, desks in the classroom have been set apart from each other to enforce social distancing.
Students are being required to sit in the same seat each time they are in the classroom and professors must keep a seating chart, which will help in case contact tracing needs to occur.
Students are responsible for disinfecting their seats when they enter and leave the classroom, with wipes provided. As with everywhere else on campus, everybody is required to wear masks. Some professors have opted for additional face shields.
Another precaution taken is the limiting of shared items. This is accomplished with the now paperless classrooms. All course content is delivered through Blackboard like usual, including the syllabus, assignments, and exams.
Mercyhurst has implemented other policies outside of classes to control the spread of the disease, evident even just traveling to and from classrooms. Rules include traversing the building in one direction based on signs and arrows placed around campus. These arrows limit student interactions and promote social distancing.
Students are also expected to stay home from class if they feel ill. In many instances, professors have rewritten their attendance policy so students can participate either virtually or in-person without their grade being negatively affected, if they need to for health reasons.
When returning home from class, all students should regularly sanitize their belongings once in their home or residence building. Mercyhurst is having success with these guidelines and all of these efforts are in place to prevent some of the outbreaks seen at other colleges throughout the country.
At Mercyhurst, consequences for failing to comply with the policies can be harsh, with the highest-level being suspension or expulsion. It is important that all students continue to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to keep students, faculty and staff healthy.