Neumann RISES to the Challenge

Neumann University - Presidential Fall Update
A Message from Dr. Chris Everett Domes

Neumann University plans to welcome students back to campus for the fall semester. Dr. Chris Everett Domes, Neumann University president, convened a Campus Reopening Team (CRT) made up of an interdisciplinary team of professional staff and faculty from across the university, which is currently working diligently to develop new procedures, protocols, and operational norms that maximize health and safety for the entire campus community while continuing to conduct quality teaching, education and activities.

When students, faculty, staff and visitors return they may find the campus will feel and look different. However, everyone can be confident that our Franciscan RISES values will continue to be front and center. Ensuring a safe, high quality, and caring environment for all remains our top priority.

The university is following the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Preliminary Guidance for Resuming In-Person Instruction at Postsecondary Education Institutions and Adult Education Programs Report, as well as adhering to Department of Health (DOH) and CDC guidance.

Neumann’s plan will also align with Pennsylvania’s reopening and recovery plan which is based on the designation of counties as red, yellow, and green phases. Each color designation signals how counties may implement social distancing and establish restrictions on work, instruction, non-essential operations, social interactions, and gatherings. More information is available at governor.pa.gov.

The university is committed to careful monitoring of COVID-19. The possibility that counties may transition to different phases at any given time exists and postsecondary institutions, like Neumann, must remain flexible and be prepared with contingencies plans as phases change.

A full and complete Reopening Plan with detailed health and safety protocols will be posted on this website by no later than August 1. All plans are contingent upon the path of COVID-19 and Pennsylvania State mandates.

Campus Re-Opening Questions

Academic

What about fall classes? How will they be offered?

Neumann University will welcome students back for the fall semester beginning August 31. The university is committed to providing flexibility for our students and will provide the options of face-to-face instruction, a hybrid learning format which combines face to face instruction with online content, as well as fully online classes.

Because the CDC has recommended small classes wherever possible to limit contact, the hybrid approach anticipates no more than 15-20 students in a standard classroom at any given time (to comply with social distancing guidelines) with the other half offsite, experiencing the class via virtual online instruction. These segments will rotate to provide all students an in-class experience if they chose. Classes which have always been taught online will remain fully online with no changes. Students who opt for a fully online experience will need to complete and submit an electronic form from the Office of the Registrar.

What exactly does a “hybrid” learning format mean?

A Hybrid format is a blending of fully online with face-to-face instruction. Every class section designated as a hybrid section will be offered traditionally with face-to-face instruction combined with online instruction in both synchronous (same time as your scheduled class) and asynchronous (whenever you want to access course content) formats. Our goal is to continue to offer quality instruction adhering to safe social distancing requirements and provide students the flexibility they require.

Here’s a little more detail on what remote learning will mean for you:

  • Virtual instruction means faculty will conduct face-to-face sessions as they normally would while having Microsoft Teams sessions running at the same time so students can meet with professors and classmates as they would if on campus.
  • All classes, except a few designated labs, will utilize Microsoft Teams imbedded in Blackboard. Every class lecture will be recorded and easily accessed and reviewed by students at a later time if needed.
  • Asynchronous, online classes mean you will be able to access course content at a time and place that best suits your schedule, as long as you meet assignment deadlines.
  • Training on how to get the most out of these experiences will be provided to both students and faculty through forthcoming videos which are being created for you.
  • Plans for larger classes, and classes that require hands-on instruction (labs, art) will be developed over the summer.
How will the in-person classes be made safe for students?

Neumann will be holding in-person classes at 50% capacity (with no more than 15-20 students per classroom). Over the summer facilities will be moving chairs, tables to assume 6-feet distance between all students, installing safeguards and barriers where needed in offices and in the Library where students interact with staff, and creating signage to remind them of necessary precautions recommended by the CDC and the PA Department of Education. These precautions include mandatory mask wearing, hand washing, maintaining a 6-foot social distance and not sharing any items in class, among others.

Students, faculty and staff will be required to comply with specific health and safety protocols. A full and complete Reopening Plan with detailed health and safety protocols will be posted on this website by no later than August 1. All plans are contingent upon the path of COVID-19 and Pennsylvania State mandates.

What if students cannot come to campus because of health concerns or other viable reasons?

We understand that health concerns or other personal situations may make it unwise for some students to receive face-to-face instruction while the risk of the spread of COVID-19 still exists. The university is committed to providing flexibility for our students and will provide the options of face-to-face in a hybrid learning format as well as a fully online experience for those students who chose this format for health or other reasons.

Students who opt for a fully online experience in a class designated as either face to face or hybrid will need to complete and submit an electronic form from the Office of the Registrar. Any student who wishes to take a class fully online only needs to fill out the form in the Office of the Registrar.

What will the fall academic schedule look like?

Fall classes will begin on Monday, August 31. Fall break will be eliminated and all classes will shift to fully online by 5 p.m. on November 20 to eliminate travel to and from campus during Thanksgiving break. Right now, plans are for students to return for the spring semester on January 13, 2021.

What about internships, student teaching placements, clinical assignments and field experiences?

Neumann University is working hard to restore as much normalcy as possible in these situations. Certain aspects of fall 2020 are very fluid. How these situations work will be determined on a case-by-case basis and will be guided by the procedures of the organizations which host our students and the accrediting agencies who have not yet weighed in on what is permissible.

Will students be able to use the library?

When face to face classes are in session, students, faculty, and staff will gain access to the library space with the use of a time-slot reservation system. Additional details will be made available by July 31, 2020.

Virtual services (Research consultation appointments, Chat Reference, inter-library loan, ebooks, and digital databases) will continue without disruption.

What will happen if the University is required to close its campuses again because of a resurgence of COVID-19 or a campus outbreak?

There is no way to predict the path of this virus at this time. If circumstances overwhelm campus or county resources or we are told by the State of Pennsylvania that we must halt on-campus operations, Neumann will then shift to fully online as we did in March 2020.

A full and complete Reopening Plan with detailed health and safety protocols will be posted on this website by no later than August 1. All plans are contingent upon the path of COVID-19 and Pennsylvania State mandates.

Residence Life

Will students still be able to live on campus?

Yes! The Office of Residence Life is working hard to ensure the safety of students who chose to live on campus. We will need to adhere to strict health and safety guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic that require physical distancing. Therefore, we have had to reduce our overall housing capacity to accommodate double occupancy rooms for the fall 2020 semester. Due to these changes, Housing Lottery and Selection will take place on June 18th, 19th and 22nd for all upperclassmen who received lottery numbers. Students who did not receive lottery numbers have been automatically placed on our housing waitlist, which will be updated every Wednesday. First year housing assignments will be communicated to incoming and transfer students after July 6th.

As soon as detailed plans regarding policy changes and added safety precautions for residential students are developed, we will share more information via email, the website and student and parent portals (the Knight Life app, Campus ESP, and Instagram--@neumannreslife). Please stay tuned!

How will Neumann offer Dining Services?

Our dining service provider, Sodexo, is taking a cautious, measured approach that gives students the confidence to enjoy meals on campus, as well as the flexibility to choose the dining options that make them feel most comfortable. Proven precautions and safety practices, combined with transparent and ongoing communication, will be in place to assure students and parents that we’re doing everything we can to protect the campus community.

Food service will wear masks and gloves and will continue to frequently wash their hands. High-touch surfaces will be cleaned frequently with professional-grade products. Food service employees will regularly report on their health, including temperature checks. Self-service options will be eliminated.

When dining rooms are open, they will have limited seating capacity, updated configurations, and floor markers to encourage social distancing. Safe meal delivery options to isolated locations for students experiencing symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19.

Touchless entryways, online ordering, cashless payments, and delivery options will limit contact between dining staff and students. Expanded options for carryout orders, including delivery where feasible. The health & safety of Sodexo and Neumann employees, students, faculty, staff and all consumers is of utmost priority.

Health & Safety

What health and safety protocols is Neumann requiring for the fall return?

Neumann is currently developing a wide range of health and safety protocols across campus for students (residents and commuters), faculty, staff, and visitors including, but not limited to:

  • Wearing face masks in all campus buildings and when close contact is likely.
  • Health and safety training for students, faculty and staff.
  • Implementing social distancing in all common spaces.
  • Providing access to COVID-19 testing.
  • Enacting procedures to identify infected persons and trace contacts and keep the university community safe as well as prevent the virus spread.
  • Executing thorough cleaning protocols based on CDC and current health department guidelines.

A full and complete Reopening Plan with detailed health and safety protocols will be posted on this website by no later than August 1. All plans are contingent upon the path of COVID-19 and Pennsylvania State mandates.

What medical and counseling support is available for students?

The Neumann University Counseling Center for Wellness is available for students' well-being within a safe and confidential environment through a range of supportive services. Counselors are available for remote counseling sessions. To find out how to connect with one of our mental health counselors please go to the web page for The Counseling Center for Wellness.

Health Services will maintain a phone-based triage consultation for all students during this period. Please call 610-558-5540 for a consultation. If you are feeling sick or if you experience any signs of the flu, including a fever over 100 degrees, please consult your health provider immediately and contact Health Services via telephone at 610-558-5540.

A full and complete Reopening Plan with detailed health and safety protocols will be posted on this website by no later than August 1. All plans are contingent upon the path of COVID-19 and Pennsylvania State mandates.