Mount Union Planning to Reopen Campus For Fall Semester

ALLIANCE (News Talk 1480 WHBC) – As schools across the nation begin to plan for next year, one local college has informed students that it intends to reopen by the start of the next semester.

The University of Mount Union announced this afternoon that it is making plans to resume face to face instruction and residential operations this fall. Mount Union says the safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors is paramount.

The university is making modifications to all areas of campus to create safe distancing to ensure a successful return. The reopening plan can be viewed right here.

Below is a press release Mount Union sent to current students, faculty and alumni earlier today.

Today, the University of Mount Union shared with returning and entering students that the institution is making plans to resume face-to-face instruction and residential operations this fall. As we plan to welcome our community back to campus for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, the safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors is paramount. We recognize that important modifications regarding living and learning, particularly in terms of creating safe distancing in classrooms, campus housing, and dining and group meeting venues, are needed.

As a student-centered institution that offers a highly personalized-education, the University understands the importance of face-to-face learning and its impact on our students. Thus, beginning August 24, 2020 and continuing through December 12, 2020, Mount Union will utilize the Social Distancing Learning Model of education, which combines face-to-face and remote instruction.

The goal of this model is to maximize personal interaction between faculty and students, and between students in a course, while reducing attendance density in classrooms, thus permitting proper social distancing. During each week of instruction, a portion of students in a given course will meet face-to-face in one class session, while the other portion participates and learns remotely. The next session meeting would have those two student groups switching places.

This blended model will best position Mount Union to maintain social distancing guidelines and recommendations while preserving the integrity of the exceptional learning experiences students have come to expect.

The implementation of the model will be strengthened by a significant investment in faculty training and innovation resulting in the development of a new Faculty Development Center. This center, which has been a focus of planning for the past two years, will offer a summer institute for faculty that will present best practices for blending in-person and remote instruction to maximize learning, student engagement, and student success.

The University also intends to have its campus housing open to students for the fall. Our reopening will be done with great care and concern, and in accordance with necessary safety protocols, to ensure the health and well-being of our community members. The institution also plans to extend its commuter range to 60 miles to accommodate those students who would prefer to live at their permanent homes.

Our plan for the fall includes the opening and safe operation of dining services, which will adhere to all Centers for Disease Control and Ohio Department of Health guidelines.

The health and safety of our community is our paramount concern. We are fortunate to enjoy close proximity and a robust partnership with Aultman Alliance Community Hospital, and our campus health center is located in the professional office building on the hospital’s campus, allowing our students and staff to access a full range of needed medical treatments and services. Staff from Aultman Alliance Community Hospital, representatives from the City of Alliance’s Health Department, faculty members from the University’s health sciences programs, and staff from across the University are serving on a Health and Safety Committee that is planning for a safe restart of face-to-face teaching and residential operation in August.

Today’s announcements to students also addressed resources that are available to those suffering financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, including the Special Circumstances Financial Appeal process, Student Emergency Grants, and the Mount Union Pell Opportunity Grant. It also expressed that our dedicated and supportive community – professors, coaches, and staff members alike – are here to offer mentorship and advising in support of our students’ academic, intellectual, and personal growth as they face the challenges brought by COVID-19 and prepare to return to face-to-face learning.

Throughout the summer, members of campus planning groups will be focused on academic instruction, monitoring and responding to health and safety issues, and evaluation of classrooms, residences, dining facilities, meeting venues, and workplaces to ensure the safety of our students and our faculty and staff.

Rest assured, we will be ready to welcome students safely back to campus in August. We will also be prepared to adapt our operations to comply with the decisions of federal, state, and local authorities and public health officials.

For additional details regarding the institution’s planning for the fall, please visit our Fall 2020 Plan to Reopen web page.

Stay safe and healthy. We look forward to seeing everyone again soon.