“I’m delighted to share the news that Messiah University will be reopening in August for an on-campus, in-person start to the 2020 fall undergraduate semester,” President Kim Phipps said in her video shared with students and employees of Messiah University.

In her June 1st email, Phipps shared Messiah’s plans for the fall semester after recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students already registered for classes in the fall of 2020 do not need to re-register. New and transfer students will still register in early June. Students will receive information regarding move-in dates and Welcome Week by mid-to-late July.

Though the class catalogue will remain the same, it is important to note the changes in the academic calendar. The first day of classes will be moved to August 25 and fall break will be removed. Moving the timeline up allows Messiah to better manage and maintain student travel. In-person classes will end the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break. After break, students will finish classes and finals online, ending the semester in the first week of December.

Messiah promised to implement “proactive health and safety measures in our in-person classroom setting.” Precautions could include changing typical class locations or staggering in-person and remote learning. Though the model will differ from course to course, Messiah seeks to establish a plethora of options for students according to their needs. In addition to in-person classes, Messiah is making courses available remotely for students unable to or uncomfortable with attending on-campus classes.

Messiah has ensured all students will have access to housing. Promoting and enforcing social distancing in dormitories is a task that officials are still coordinating. Commuting remains another option for students. Dining venues will be adjusted according to social distancing and safety measures. More information regarding housing and dining is promised by July 1.

The healthcare at the Engle Center will see more staff hours and greater resources during the fall semester. In response to the pandemic, Messiah is developing protocols for COVID-19, including testing, screening, surveillance and containment. On-campus telehealth efforts will also be expanded. Additional communication regarding healthcare will be sent out by July 15.

In addition to deep cleaning throughout the summer, Messiah will also install plexiglass and additional sanitizing stations to aid in health promotion on campus. The increased summer cleaning protocols are set to continue during the fall semester, complying with both the state and CDC guidelines.

Additional plans include the safe re-opening of on-campus studios, labs, Murray Library, the fitness center and other facilities. Co-curricular programs, off-campus programs, employee work spaces and visitor policies will also be updated for the fall semester. Another wave of information will be sent out regarding the reopening of some of these resources and programs no later than August 1.

While Messiah intends to operate according to these adjustments, plans remain subjected to public health directives and changes involving COVID-19. If necessary, these changes will be communicated to students and their families as soon as possible via email and the emergency website.  

“Students and families, we are praying earnestly for you,” Phipps said. “We are preparing diligently for you and we are eagerly awaiting the start of a new academic year.”