St. Bonaventure orientation

St. Bonaventure University students walk the campus during Welcome Days 2019.

ST. BONAVENTURE — Classes for St. Bonaventure University’s fall semester will begin earlier and be completed online after the Thanksgiving break.

Dr. Dennis DePerro, the university’s president, said in a message posted this week that the semester will begin Monday, Aug. 24, a week earlier than originally scheduled.

On-campus instruction will end on Tuesday, Nov. 24, with the fall semester to conclude Nov. 30-Dec. 10 with three days of online-only instruction, a reading/study day (Dec. 3) and five days of online final exams.

With very few exceptions, students living on campus must leave campus no later than Wednesday, Nov. 25, not to return to campus until the beginning of the spring semester.

DePerro said the mid-term break of Oct. 12-13 has been eliminated to maximize face-to-face instruction before the Thanksgiving break and to reduce student travel from and back to campus — the same reason on-campus instruction is ending Nov. 24.

“Many colleges and universities have made similar alterations to their calendars, all with the goal of making the best out of a difficult situation,” DePerro said. “We have an obligation to do all we can to limit the spread of COVID-19 until a vaccine or antibody treatment is developed.”

A staggered move-in schedule for residence halls will be kept to promote physical distancing. Freshmen will move in Aug. 21 and transfers will move in Aug. 22.

Returning students with last names beginning with A-L will move in Aug. 22 and students from M-Z will return on Aug. 23.

“Our ultimate goal is to have on-campus classes until Thanksgiving, but that will only be possible if all of us — students, faculty and staff — are committed to acting selflessly and abiding by the health and safety protocols we’ve established with guidance from the county and state Health Departments,” DePerro said.

By the end of July, the university’s complete comprehensive re-opening plan will be available, but some of the key points to focus on are:

MANDATORY COVID-19 TEST: Students must get a COVID-19 PCR molecular test within 14 days of return to campus and they must complete a pre-arrival screening.

FACE COVERINGS: Unless students are in their rooms with roommate, residence hall bathrooms or seated at a dining facility on campus, they must wear face coverings indoors. This will include classrooms, where seats will be 6 feet apart.

“You will also need to wear a mask outdoors if you’re in an area where it’s not possible to be 6 feet apart from others,” DePerro said in his message.

All students (off-campus included) will receive a Buff Gaiter face covering and a limited supply of disposable face coverings.

SCREENING: Students will fill out a periodic health screening assessment online every Wednesday to monitor them for symptoms, exposure and travel. Employees will fill out an assessment each day they come to campus.

Symptomatic students who test positive during the semester will be placed in a first-floor Doyle Hall room set aside for isolation. Immediate roommates of students who have tested positive for COVID-19 — either in a dorm, townhouse or apartment setting — will be isolated until the county Health Department determines that they are not a threat to the general population and can rejoin the general student population.

Students who live in group housing with an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, but who are not symptomatic or have not yet tested positive themselves, will be quarantined in their apartment/dorm suite/townhouse. They would also be allowed to return home.

Large spaces on campus will be used for instruction, including galleries in the Quick Arts Center, large meeting rooms and event spaces on campus.

DePerro said decisions about proceeding with Family Weekend (Sept. 26-27) and the rescheduled Class of 2020 Commencement Weekend (Oct. 10-11) will be made later this summer.

“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.”