Fall update from Dean Ramsey

Message sent July 21, 2020

Julie Ramsey, VP for College Life and Dean of Students, outlines details of the College’s COVID-19 testing plan, residence hall assignments, requirements before returning to campus, and the new Student Health Agreement.

Dear Students,

As we get closer to the opening of school, we are getting very excited about your return! We hope you share in that excitement and anticipation. Of course, there are many logistical details this year that will require very careful attention on your part. This is the first of several communications coming your way in the next few weeks. Please read each carefully and adhere to the deadlines, so that we can keep your return on track. If you are not planning on returning to campus this fall, this letter does not apply to you.

Please read the following letter carefully as it includes important information regarding:

Gettysburg College COVID-19 testing plan

Regular and ongoing testing of students for COVID-19 is one of the most important steps colleges are taking to protect the health and safety of their students, faculty, and staff when they reopen their campuses this fall. Gettysburg College is partnering with a national testing lab to provide and run our tests and has developed a testing plan that includes:

  • Baseline testing of all students upon a return to campus in August
  • Ongoing testing available throughout the semester

This plan for testing will be supplemented by self-screening for all students, including regular health checks in conjunction with the Health Center. All students will be expected to:

  • Pre-screen themselves before returning to Gettysburg
  • Self-quarantine at home for two weeks before returning to campus
  • Engage in daily ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester

More information on the health expectations of our students can be found under Health Guidelines on the Better Together website.

Let’s look at each of these strategies in closer detail.

Baseline testing

All students will undergo baseline testing upon arrival. Baseline testing refers to establishing a baseline, or starting point, for the level of infection with COVID-19 on campus at the beginning of the semester. While any test is simply a “snapshot,” or “moment in time,” testing all students at the very start of the academic year gives us some degree of certainty that any student who is bringing the virus with them to campus—and therefore the Borough of Gettysburg—will be identified and isolated appropriately. Here’s the challenging part: all students will need to be quarantined in their rooms after arrival on campus until the test results are returned, at which point students who test negative will be released from quarantine. We hope that test results will be available within 48 hours. Research suggests that the vast majority of students tested at the outset will be negative.

Students who test positive on arrival will have two options. They may return home and isolate themselves until they are cleared, or they may be relocated temporarily to an isolation room on- or off-campus, as determined by the College, until (1) at least 10 days have passed since symptoms began, (2) there has been no fever for 72 hours, and (3) the student no longer has symptoms. During isolation, a case manager in the Health Center will care for the student and work with the student on a plan for completing coursework and ensure all student needs, i.e. meals, are addressed.

The College will require isolation for students who test positive even if they are asymptomatic (showing no signs of the disease). It is important to find and isolate these students early on, because they can be carriers of the infection and transmit it to others without even being aware they have it.

Ongoing testing throughout the semester

During the course of the semester, every week, the College will conduct regular and ongoing testing. This testing will include any student who has symptoms of COVID-19, as well as students who have been in contact with a person who has the disease and/or tests positive—a critical part of “contact tracing.” This phase of testing may also include students who are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection and students selected entirely at random.

Students tested in this manner will receive instructions from the Health Center on what to do in the time between testing and when the results of the tests are known. Some students may be placed in quarantine until the results are returned.

These plans depend on the availability of testing supplies and the ability of the labs located throughout the country to turn around the tests in a reasonable period of time. Because Gettysburg, like all colleges, is dependent on these external factors outside of our control, we acknowledge that we may be required to adapt these plans as we go.

While we feel confident about our planning and approach to testing, no amount of planning can eliminate the risks associated with COVID-19. Like colleges and universities across the country, Gettysburg College will likely see cases of COVID-19 on campus. Our planning is intended to limit the risk of the virus spreading on campus. Every member of our campus will have to abide by and uphold the health and safety protocols in order to mitigate community spread and maintain the health of our community.

Residential hall assignments for Fall 2020

Your housing assignment and roommate information is now posted on CNAV. To view your assignment and roommate(s), log onto CNAV, click on MyPlace, and then select MyHousing Self Service. This screen will show you your room assignment and roommate information. In addition, on the far right of the screen, you can click on Links and then Floor Plans to view your floor layout. We also encourage you to visit the Residential & First-Year Programs website so that you can view photos of your hall and review additional details about the building.

First-Year Students

All first-year students are required as part of the curriculum to enroll in a First-Year Seminar course. We believe that an important component of the academic experience is living within the same building as your seminar classmates.

Upperclass Students

Some of you may notice that your roommate(s) changed from what you may have expected. Over the course of the summer, students make changes to their academic plans which leads to vacancies opening throughout campus. If the College stored your belongings after your departure in March, additional information about how to pick up your belongings during the Move-In process will be provided soon. If you have questions, please contact Residence Life.

The College will be working to assign each student a day and time for Move-In and, as a reminder, the College is providing drop-and-go days August 4-6. We will send this information on or before Monday, July 27. You must sign and complete The Student Health Agreement (see below for more information) in order to receive your Move-In assignment.

Preparing for return to campus

Self-quarantine before classes begin

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. We recognize that not all students will have this option because of essential work, family situations, etc. but we are asking all students who can to self-isolate for two weeks before returning to Gettysburg. These common-sense measures include:

  • Remaining at home as much as possible and limiting contacts to immediate family
  • 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
  • Remaining vigilant regarding personal hygiene, especially frequent hand-washing


In early August, students will receive a questionnaire from the Health Center asking them to respond to a set of questions that assess their risk of having been exposed to COVID-19. If there has been any risk of exposure, the Health Center will follow up directly with those students.

Reminder to pack lightly

We encourage all 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 your family to have a plan for vacating campus quickly should the need arise. Bringing fewer possessions will also make for a smoother and faster Move-In.

Daily health checks

After they arrive on campus, the College will ask students to check for possible COVID-19 symptoms on a daily basis through the Medicat portal in the Health Center. Our goal is to remind students each day to stop and think about their health and to contact the Health Center if they have symptoms. Students must contact the Health Center and not go to class if they are experiencing symptoms.

The Student Health Agreement

As part of our preparation for the fall, the College has developed a meticulous plan to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Various components of this plan will adjust our standard campus norms with different policies, practices, and procedures. The temporary changes will impact how you engage with one another in residential spaces, eat together in dining facilities, participate in classes, gather with friends, and interact with people on campus. Some of these changes may seem extensive at times, but they are necessary to keep us all safe.

The ability to remain on campus in the fall is contingent on our collective support of the COVID-19 mitigation plan. We need your help in reviewing and agreeing to abide by the policies, practices, and procedures that will reduce the spread of COVID-19. The College has developed a Student Health Agreement that explains these expectations. The Agreement is attached to this email; please read the document and discuss with your parents as soon as possible.

To be eligible to return to in-person instruction, you will need to review and commit to The Student Health Agreement. The Agreement will need to be signed by you electronically and submitted to the College no later than noon on Friday, July 24. You will not receive additional Move-In information until you sign The Agreement. If you are under the age of 18, both you and your parents will need to sign The Agreement electronically and submit it to the College. The Agreement is also included in your Medicat Patient Portal as an online form. If you are unwilling to commit to The Student Health Agreement, you will be provided with the option to study remotely for the fall semester.

If you have any questions about The Student Health Agreement, please contact me directly at fallreturn@gettysburg.edu. Most questions can be answered at the College’s Better Together website. Thank you for reviewing this letter and your commitment to uphold The Student Health Agreement. Working together, we can ensure the fall semester is a successful one!


Dean Julie Ramsey, Ed.D.
Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students