Fall semester update

Message sent July 7

Julie Ramsey, Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students, and Chris Zappe, Provost, update the campus community about the College’s reopening plans for the fall 2020 semester.

Dear Students and Families,

This message is a follow-up to President Iuliano’s announcement on June 22 that the College will return to in-person instruction for the Fall 2020 Semester. The email below contains important information regarding:

  • Academic Calendar Changes
  • Open Enrollment for Courses
  • Move-In Dates and Information
  • Gap Options, Commuting, and Remote Learning
  • Updates to Housing for Fall 2020
  • Changes to Early Arrivals
  • Orientation
  • Athletics
  • Precautionary Measures Prior to Return

Academic calendar changes

The Fall Semester will start early with classes beginning on August 17. We will eliminate Fall Reading Days and finish on-campus instruction on November 20, which is four days earlier than previously announced. We will hold finals remotely.

The Spring Semester will start one week early on January 11, 2021. We will eliminate Spring Break and have classes end on April 16. Finals will be held in person beginning April 18 through April 24.

This shift in the calendar will impact annual events, most notably Commencement for the Classes of 2020 and 2021.

  • Commencement for the Class of 2021 will be held May 1-2. More information for the Class of 2021 about this change will be forthcoming.
  • Commencement for the Class of 2020 will be held May 7-8.

The full academic calendar can be found here.

Open enrollment for courses

First-year courses will be announced for fall 2020 via the Registrar’s website on Tuesday, July 7. The initial First-Year Announcement of Courses is subject to change as academic departments and programs continue to review the course offerings for the fall; changes may include time changes or moving courses from in-person to online/remote courses. First-year course registration will begin on Wednesday, July 15, at 9 a.m. EDT. First-year students will be enrolled in a First-Year Seminar prior to the week of First-Year Advising, which will take place July 8-14.

For returning students: As the College prepares for a return to residence for fall 2020, the Office of the Registrar is preparing for the maximum number of courses that can be offered in person in the classroom. As part of this preparation, and to follow guidelines for physical distancing, some courses will need to be moved to a different time slot. Therefore, some returning students may need to make schedule adjustments in the coming weeks.

The Office of the Registrar is contacting students individually if the time of their courses has been adjusted. Students who have been contacted should review their fall 2020 course schedule via the Student Center prior to July 30.

Beginning on Thursday, July 30 through Sunday, August 16 students can make course adjustments for the Fall 2020 Semester. Students can make changes through the Student Center, found on the current students website. If your course schedule has changed and you need assistance with revising your course schedule, please contact your academic advisor.

Move-in dates and information

With classes scheduled to begin on August 17, the College is planning to open residence halls for Move-In on the following dates. Please note that there will be no early arrivals (more information about early arrivals is provided below) and that changes to the Move-In schedule may be necessary as we account for the changing conditions presented by COVID-19.

Activity Dates
Drop-and-Go Appointments Tuesday, August 4
Wednesday, August 5
Thursday, August 6
Student Move-In Dates Tuesday, August 11
Wednesday, August 12
Thursday, August 13
Friday, August 14

All students moving into residence halls will be assigned a date/time to move in over a period of four days listed above. You will receive instructions to sign up for a move in day/time by July 27. Typically, we are able to provide additional information about when first-year and returning students will move in; however, we are working to align Move-In with an arrival testing plan that will be necessary to protect the community. We are still developing the specifics of the arrival testing plan.

These measures are in place for your safety and to reduce the number of people on a floor or in a building at one time. In order to further assist with reducing the number of people on campus during Move-In, the College will open the residence halls Tuesday, August 4 through Thursday, August 6 for a scheduled “drop-and-go” appointment. Students will receive an email from RFYP on July 27 to sign up for this option, should they choose to do so. For those who choose this option, they will be able to drop their belongings in their fall housing assignment and then return home. Students will receive specific information about the date/time they may return to campus to officially move in for the semester.

We will be working to move students in quickly this year during scheduled appointments (three-hour time slots with limited guests accompanying students into the halls). We encourage students to: pack lightly this fall and focus on bringing only essential and important items to campus; to have a bag of essential items organized in the event that we need to relocate students or if students need to leave campus on short notice; and finally, to work with their families to have a plan for vacating campus quickly should the need arise.

Gap options, commuting, and remote learning

We understand that some students may not be able to—or will prefer not to—return to a residential environment because of health concerns, travel issues, or family obligations, but still want to stay engaged with the College and pursue their Gettysburg education. We want students to have as many options as possible, and will work with students to more fully understand their inpidual circumstances.

Gap Programs: The Center for Public Service (CPS) and the Center for Global Education (CGE) are offering gap semester or gap year programs for interested students.

  • Those interested in a gap year of service should contact CPS by July 30 to enroll in periodic virtual gatherings. Deadlines and requirements vary for gap year service options with AmeriCorps and other organizations.
  • Students interested in options through the Center for Global Education should contact CGE to discuss these opportunities. All returning students and first-year international students can participate in these programs. Deadlines vary from mid-July to early August, and some programs are filling quickly.

Commuting: To better accommodate student preference for the fall, we have extended our radius for commuters from 30 miles to now 60 miles outside of campus. If you are interested in commuting, please contact RFYP. Students must indicate their desire to commute by July 15.

Studying Remotely: We are working to ensure that students who want to learn remotely will be able to take a full course load and make progress toward the completion of their degree requirements. Please note that the online curriculum will likely not be as comprehensive as that available to the residential students. If you are interested in learning remotely for the Fall Semester, please contact the Office of the Registrar as soon as possible.

Updates for housing for Fall 2020

The College is working to make some changes to student housing for the fall. This includes an effort to decrease the overall density of students in the traditional, large residence halls on campus. After consulting with our medical experts at Keeling & Associates, we have decreased the density on each floor to reduce the total number of people residing in Rice, Paul, Stine, Huber, Hanson, Patrick, and Musselman. This proactive step is being implemented to reduce the number of contacts students have in the residence halls. If you live in a different building and have a question about building density, please contact RFYP.

This reduction in density required us to find additional housing space for the Fall Semester. The College is in the process of leasing hotel rooms in Gettysburg, including at the Hotel Gettysburg, which will serve as student housing this fall. Some of our returning students will be assigned to hotel spaces, which will offer double occupancy with a private restroom.

Our goal is to provide a space and experience for all students that aligns with our goals as a residential college, while at the same time implementing safe practices of reducing density and physical distancing. RFYP will contact you directly if your residential assignment is impacted. If it is impacted, it is due to our efforts to reduce density and move some students to local hotels.

All students—first-year and returning—will be contacted by RFYP on or before July 27 regarding housing assignment confirmation, move in appointment date/time, and other details for the fall.

If you have questions, please contact RFYP.

Changes to early arrivals

Each year, many of our students arrive on campus several days to weeks before classes begin in order to prepare for fall activities, fall sports training camps, student staff training, and pre-orientation. There will not be any early arrivals this year for training or pre-orientation programs prior to move in which begins on August 11. The exceptions include those students who serve in positions with residential, health, and safety responsibilities for other students and the campus (e.g. residential life student staff team).

If you have questions, please contact RFYP.


With the start date of fall classes moving up by two weeks, the College has had to adjust other aspects for the opening of the year. We are currently planning to hold some small group, in-person Orientation activities for first-year students between the date of Move-In and the start of classes. This time will be spent discussing important topics about your transition to college and your Gettysburg experience. Please also be prepared to complete some Orientation content online during this time period.

If you have questions, please contact Orientation at orientation@gettysburg.edu.


The Centennial Conference has announced that intercollegiate competition will be suspended for the Fall Semester as member institutions seek to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and communities amid the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the conference presidents will reevaluate the decision by the end of September, they have determined that football will not be played in the fall. The Centennial Conference will explore the possibility of shifting certain fall sports, including football, to the Spring Semester.

The decision to suspend competition this fall did not come lightly and was diligently researched and discussed by the Centennial Conference Presidents Council with consultation from conference officials, medical personnel, athletic directors, faculty, and campus administration. The perceived risks and consequences associated with the resumption of competition proved too great, at least in the immediate term, given the continued presence of COVID-19 and the health and safety efforts each school is undertaking on their campuses.

Although intercollegiate competition has been suspended for the fall, varsity sports will be permitted to engage in certain activities with their teams, such as strength and conditioning training and instruction on technique, within the framework set out by the NCAA’s Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport and guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state and local governments.

If you have questions about athletics, please view the Centennial Conference announcement, the Gettysburg College announcement, or our FAQ on the athletics website.

Precautionary measures prior to return

We acknowledge that COVID-19 presents many unknown factors as we look ahead. The College, while committed to opening and remaining residential for the fall, may need to adjust to changing conditions. We thank you for your patience and understanding as our plans continue to be developed with these potential scenarios in mind. If you have questions about any of the items covered in this email, please contact the office listed under each section. For general questions about our fall reopening, you can email fallreturn@gettysburg.edu.

In preparation for our return to residence, it is essential that all students take precautions against exposure to COVID-19 at least two weeks in advance of Move-In to ensure the health and safety of our community. These common-sense measures include avoiding gathering in large groups (especially indoors), maintaining a six-foot distance from others, wearing your mask or face covering in the presence of others, monitoring your health every day, and being very diligent about personal hygiene—especially frequent hand-washing.

To be Better Together, we must likewise be committed to one another and to our shared expectations for the academic year ahead. We are confident that all Gettysburgians will do their part to keep our campus healthy. Our next College communication will be shared on or before July 20. Until then, stay safe and enjoy your summer!


Julie Ramsey
Dean of Students

Chris Zappe