Updated: August 17 at 6:30 p.m.


What is Messiah’s testing protocol related to COVID-19?


  • Messiah’s testing program has two branches. First, prior to opening, the University will test certain student populations who are at greater risk for exposure to the virus and planning to be in-person this fall, such as student athletes. Secondly, the Engle Center is prepared to do PCR testing for students and employees throughout the semester due to symptoms or exposure. The University is closely following the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) Guidelines. For those who test positive, we contact the DOH immediately according to HIPPA guidelines, and follow the appropriate contact tracing and notification protocols.  


  • Messiah did research and consider the value of testing all students and employees prior to their arrival to campus. However, the most recent CDC guidelines indicate that pre-campus testing is less effective in the reduction of COVID-19 than a comprehensive quarantine protocol and a daily required self-monitoring/reporting for the entire campus community—combined with a robust on-campus testing protocol for any student or employee who is at high risk because of symptoms or exposure. Accordingly, this is the testing strategy and protocol that the University has adopted for the fall. However, we are following the CDC guidelines carefully and will adapt as needed throughout the semester.


Are students allowed visitors at all during the fall semester?

Student visitation will look different for fall 2020. Federal and state guidance on reopening safely instruct institutions to limit visitors and non-essential personnel in residential spaces. The University will be using a phased approach to visitation to better ensure the health and safety of all.


For the first two weeks of classes, there is no visitation


  • Students must not enter a floor or apartment or house if they do not reside there. If the campus remains free of COVID-19 cases after two weeks, visitation will resume with modified parameters outlined below.
  1. Residential students may visit fellow residential students. Both the hosts and visiting residential students must wear protective cloth masks during the duration of the visit.
  2. Until further notice, no off-campus visitors are permitted in university residences, including commuters and student family members.
  3. Residential student visitors cannot have had COVID-19 symptoms nor been exposed to someone with the virus within two weeks prior to the visit.
  4. Residential student visitors must remain a Falcon Wingspan apart and should not share furniture together with another person at the same time (futons, couches, chairs, room beds, etc.). Furniture should be cleaned and disinfected immediately after use.
  5. Residential student visitors are not permitted to be in floor lounges.
  6. No floor bathroom use by residential student visitors. Residential student visitors may use the public restrooms located in the main building spaces.
  7. There is a maximum limit of three individuals in a traditional residence hall single or double room; four individuals in a traditional residence hall triple room.
  8. Residents in apartments are limited to three additional residential visitors at a time with the ability to maintain a Falcon Wingspan apart. As always, no visitation in bedrooms by the opposite sex.
  9. Each special interest house will be provided with a maximum occupancy related to residential student visitors.
  10. Resident assistants are considered essential personnel and will perform walking rounds throughout floors and buildings, per usual, but wearing protective cloth masks as they do. Adjustments may be made as necessary for health and safety reasons. Other authorized campus employees will also be permitted access to residential spaces on an as-needed basis with health and safety requirements in place.

If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the campus community, visitation may be restricted or eliminated to mitigate the spread of the virus. If this occurs, applicable guidance will be communicated to residents in a timely fashion.


Are masks required on campus?


  • Yes, all Messiah students and employees will be expected to consistently wear masks. A reusable, washable cloth mask will be provided to all community members in August. Everyone is also expected to acquire their own additional masks so that masks can be maintained in a clean and useful fashion. Note: bandanas and scarves are not acceptable for masks. Community members may choose to wear a face shield instead of a mask (face shields are the only alternatives permissible instead of masks). Additionally the College will provide disposable masks in areas where routinely applying a new mask may be most appropriate.

Are there daily temperature checks?


  • Yes, all students and all employees who are on campus will take their temperature at least daily. Employees need to record their temperature before coming to work (no more than one hour before reporting to campus). This is to be recorded daily on the Falcon Health COVID-19 Check In app, which is accessible from the FalconLink portal.


Will performances happen in the fall?


  • Yes, within safety guidelines.  Events will be live-streamed and where possible there will be a small audience.  Rehearsal will take place in a socially distant setting.
  • The MAC conference has cancelled the fall sports season, so there will not be any sporting events during the fall.


Are there any fully online classes? 


  • Yes, there are a few online-only classes, but only around 5% of the curriculum is scheduled to be delivered that way this fall.


Will students be staggered on days they go to in-person classes to allow for social distancing in classrooms? 


  • It will depend on the class. Room assignments were revamped over the summer to enable as many classes as possible to meet with full attendance each day, within social distancing guidelines. In cases where attendance must be staggered, faculty will be setting up a schedule for rotating attendance in the class to maximize opportunities for face-to-face instruction and the course will be available using technology solutions for students who are attending remotely that day.


Why are there two rooms listed on my class schedule? What does that mean? 


  • In some cases, two nearby classrooms were “paired” so that a class could meet with increased face-to-face attendance each day across two spaces. The two classrooms will be connected with technology and the professor also has the option to float between the rooms and interact with students during classroom activities.


Will recent graduates ever get a chance to walk? 

  • At this point the University is still hoping to be able to schedule in-person Commencement ceremonies for the Undergraduate and Graduate Class of 2020. The ceremony dates will need to be set pending the ongoing compliance mandates from the state/federal authorities. To also help inform a decision, the Commencement Committee is in process of analyzing the feedback data received from a survey it sent to those graduates earlier this summer. Graduates from the Class of 2020 should expect to hear more information from the University in mid-late September.


How will this affect connecting with new people and upholding our close-knit community?


  • SGA has purchased nearly 100 new Adirondack chairs to be available (delivery in late September) to students across campus. We are putting up 4 smaller tents for outside gatherings of 10-12 people and there will be a few gas fire pits available for student hangouts.


We will have more information regarding the new guidelines and restrictions based on your questions once it is released. Keep an eye out on our social media platforms to be notified when more information has come out.