Gettysburg College: Testing, Housing, and Compliance Information about Spring 2021

Message sent on Tuesday December 8, 2020

Julie Ramsey, Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students, updates the campus community about the COVID-19 campus testing plan, housing lottery for spring 2021, and the updated COVID-19 rules and violation rubric.

Dear Gettysburg Students,

I hope this message finds you and your family safe and well, and that the end of your semester is finishing up successfully! As stated in President Iuliano’s communication on November 18 regarding the College’s current spring plans, the College is taking several steps to provide for the health and safety of all students as we plan for in-person instruction and a residential program for the spring. These steps include de-densifying campus, changes to the campus COVID-19 testing plan, housing students primarily in single bedrooms, and increased focus on enforcement of and compliance with the COVID-19 health and safety rules.

It is also important to re-state that the COVID-19 pandemic is a very fluid and changing situation. The College will both monitor and adjust our planning as necessary in the coming months.

Below you will find additional information and updates on the following topics:

  • COVID-19 Campus Testing Plan
  • Housing lottery, process, and plan for spring 2021
  • Updated COVID-19 Rules and Violation Rubric

Testing Plan

As we look to begin in-person instruction for the sophomore, junior, and senior class beginning on February 1, the College will work with a different testing company for the spring semester. This new relationship will increase the number of tests we have access to and will increase the frequency of testing. These changes will allow the College to more quickly identify those who have become infected with COVID-19 and take the appropriate measures to mitigate transmission.

All students living on campus, those previously approved to live off campus, and previously approved commuters will have access to the campus testing program and will be required to report for testing twice each week. Students will have a scheduled time on the designated testing days each week.

The College is still determining if a pre-arrival test will be required for all residential students as part of our spring COVID testing protocol. We will communicate updates to this evaluation and all testing-related information as we finalize decisions.

Housing Overview

We understand that housing and the residential experience are important aspects of the spring semester. One of the most important changes the College is making in its spring plans is to house students primarily in single bedrooms. The shift to single bedrooms impacts the number of students we are able to have on campus and necessitated the decision to bring back only the sophomore, junior, and senior classes and first-year students with extenuating circumstances.

Single bedrooms better allow us to support the health and safety of students and will play a key role in our quarantine protocol. The use of single bedrooms avoids the disruption of having to relocate students who are identified as low-risk contacts of positive cases.

While there are a number of questions we won’t be able to answer until after the December 15 Intent Form deadline, we wanted to provide you with the information we currently have about housing:

  • Given the shift to single bedrooms, we cannot use the fall housing plan and must re-house all students through a new housing process.
  • All students will be assigned a new, randomly-generated lottery number for the spring 2021 housing process.
  • Seniors will have first choice in the housing selection process followed by Juniors and Sophomores.
  • The shift to single bedrooms will reduce capacities in housing spaces such as apartments and suites, however, students will still be able to choose your apartment-mates and suitemates.
  • Due to the use of single occupancy bedrooms, housing rates will reflect the general building type and not necessarily all be billed at the Plan 1 rate.
  • Please note that students approved last spring to live off campus for the 2020-21 year are still approved to live off campus and will have access to the campus. This will include access to required testing unless students living off campus elect remote study. The College will not be conducting an off-campus approval process for additional students to live off campus.

There are important aspects of the spring housing program that have not yet been determined including the utilization of leased hotels off campus and the use of fraternity houses. The College will also examine the feasibility of a spring College House program once we have additional information about campus density for the spring semester on December 15. Once we have a clearer understanding of the number of students seeking to return for the spring, we will make final housing decisions for the spring semester and communicate those decisions to all residential students. We understand additional information on these topics may be helpful to you at this moment, however, we are not in a position to provide additional details without a clearer picture that our intent form will provide.

There will be an additional communication tomorrow from the Office of Residential & First-Year Programs outlining the details for the housing selection process and timeline, lottery numbers, specific housing options, and related information. Please read the information carefully and in its entirety.

Please remember that we have asked that every student declare their intent to return no later than December 15. If we don’t hear from you by December 15, we will assume you have elected to be part of the remote cohort and therefore you will not be included in the housing selection process.

COVID-19 Health & Safety Rules and Violations Rubric

During the early fall semester, the vast majority of students followed the rules but, unfortunately, a small number of students did not which contributed to the decision to de-densify. It is an important reminder that while many members of the community did their part, we, collectively, are only as strong as our fellow members.

In reviewing the fall COVID-19 policies and in consulting with our spring planning student advisory groups, the spring plan will include clearer rules, increased enforcement, and more stringent penalties for those violating the rules and consequently jeopardizing the on-campus student experience for others.

Attached to this email you will find a revised set of COVID-19 Health & Safety rules and an updated rubric. For the fall, we presented guidelines for COVID-19 in the form of a Student Health Agreement. The rules are not significantly different than the ones set forth in the previous Health Agreement. However, instead of asking you to sign the document as an agreement, a declaration of your plan to return to campus through the Intent Form will be considered acknowledgement and acceptance of the rules and rubric. A summary of the rubric is as follows:

  • We have developed a one-page set of rules addressing masking, distancing, compliance with testing, isolation, quarantine protocols, hosting guests, hosting gatherings, unauthorized visitors and travel off campus.
  • We have set important guidelines for the number of students who can gather:
    • The number of masked/distanced students that can visit an individual room at once has been set at a total of three.
    • The College is working to post apartment, suite, and lounge capacities over the winter break so all are clear about how many people can be present.
    • Outside and in any area where the capacity is not posted, including at off-campus properties, the number of students that can gather will be eight students and / or guests. Residence Life will be in touch with off-campus houses to discuss their specific situation.
    • Please note that the College will monitor COVID-19 conditions and may adjust the number (up or down) of students who can gather.
    • Students who want to gather in larger numbers can do so by using designated College spaces and work with the Office of Student Activities and Greek Life on a plan.
  • There are several expectations outlined in the rubric which, if not met, will result in a warning – for example, if you are not wearing a mask or not distancing while sitting in the library or dining, you will receive one warning. Students violating these rules a second time will be subject to assignment of remote study from their homes.
  • For more serious infractions, such as hosting more guests than permitted by the policy and specifically hosting guests who are not masking and distancing, students should expect to be re-assigned to remote study, meaning you will complete your spring semester virtually at home. Please note that students assigned to remote study are not eligible for tuition credit.
  • Those violating policy will have an opportunity to meet with College Life staff to discuss their situation but students should expect the process to move very quickly.

It is also important to note a planned increased enforcement from DPS and other members of the College staff. DPS has hired additional personnel to support its operations by assigning them COVID enforcement specific duties. This includes monitoring compliance with masking, distancing and gathering. We have also added a full-time COVID-19 Education and Compliance Director to the staff to take the lead on meeting with students regarding reported infractions. There will be several Zoom sessions scheduled during the week of January 4, 2021 to discuss the COVID-19 Rules and Rubric. More information about these sessions will be forthcoming.

As always, thank you for your continued patience and flexibility during this trying time of the pandemic. We are planning for a successful spring semester, employing these new initiatives and procedures. Please continue to direct your questions to Enjoy your winter break and holidays!

Be safe and be well,

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