By: Charmaine Lim, SBM Editor-in-Chief

President Kim Phipps announced further changes to Messiah College in light of COVID-19’s growth globally and locally.


An email on March 16, 2020 stated that Messiah would follow in line with other colleges and move classes online for the rest of the spring semester. The decision was made in order to limit in-person interactions, minimizing the potential for students to bring COVID-19 back to campus and/or contract it.


As of March 28, 2020, Messiah had its first confirmed case of COVID-19. The individual was in a higher health risk group and took all the necessary steps to inform the Engle Center. In turn, the Engle Center informed all other individuals who interacted with this employee when he was contagious.


For purposes of privacy, the identity of the employee has been kept private. Anyone who knows this employee should respect their privacy in this time so they can focus on making a full recovery.


Campus remains closed and advises students not to come back unless they are moving out of their dorms after April 1, 2020. More information regarding checkout times and forms can be found in students’ emails from their Resident Directors and here.


The most recent announcement from President Phipps confirmed that both undergraduate and graduate level commencement and graduation ceremonies will be postponed until further notice. At this time, the College does not have a new date in mind.


“We share the disappointment of our graduates and their families, but it was important to make this decision as soon as possible for families’ planning needs, and to help families apply for travel refunds,” Phipps said in the email.


This change also affects the timeline of undergraduate students moving out of dorms. Students now have until May 2, 2020 to move out – two week earlier than the original date. Signups for a check-out time have to be submitted by April 14 through via email with an RD or through this link for express check-out. 


In line with information given by RDs, check out times are the following:

  • Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – Noon and 1 – 5 p.m.
  • Monday through Friday evenings 6 – 9 p.m.
  • Saturdays 9 a.m. – Noon and 2 – 6 p.m.


The resident life website reminds students to sign up using the link your RD emailed you, which gives you the needed card access for the day in which you sign up for. All other check-out procedures remain the same. More information can be found on the resident life page. 


The College has also decided to refund students, graduating and continuing, for their unused meal plans and room and board.


“[The] President’s Cabinet has been working to develop a balanced and equitable solution during this truly unprecedented time of difficulty for students and their families,” Phipps said. “Messiah College plans to offer refunds for room and board losses to all students who were required to depart campus.”


Students with a Dining Dollars or Ala Carte meal plan will receive a cash refund for all their unused money as of March 16, 2020. The date of refund is no later than May 1, and administrators will be in touch with all impacted students before April 15, 2020.


For room fees paid, graduating seniors will receive a pro-rated cash refund for room and board. Returning students will have the option of a pro-rated cash refund or a pro-rated credit that will be applied to future semesters.


The pro-rated refund will be the calculated room and board cost for the duration between students leaving campus and the end of the semester.


Further changes to Messiah’s operations involve study abroad programs, including IBI, being cancelled until through the end of June.


“The College will be refunding the deposit and any trip fees that students have already paid,” Phipps said. “For those trips that were credit-bearing—Messiah will provide alternate course credit opportunities for graduating seniors and other eligible students toward on-time completion or progression of their degree.”


Any college-sponsored travel will also be cancelled through the end of June 2020, an extension of its original date.


If students have not received an email from the director or administrator of their programs regarding internships, clinicals and practicals, they should reach out to the Messiah educator or administrator in charge of the program.


“Our educators and administrators have been working diligently to ensure that students who are engaged in practicums, clinicals, internships and student teaching have the opportunity to complete alternate or remote/virtual experiences that will enable them to graduate and/or finish their semester on time,” Phipps said.


For more information regarding the details of these programs, students should email their educators or program administrators.

The College will continue to provide updates as it moves into a new phase, with online classes beginning Wednesday, March 25, 2020. President Phipps will be releasing weekly video updates every Thursday, in addition to any updates that are already on the emergency blog. More information can be found on the FAQ page or through previous Pulse articles about COVID-19.