EDITORS NOTES: As of 08/18/2021students, faculty and staff will be required to wear masks when indoors on campus. An update about the announcement can be found here: https://www.theslateonline.com/article/2021/08/masks-required-when-indoors-for-start-of-fall-semester-2021
Lounges furnished with a handful of couches, plexiglass dividers separating the outside world from workers, half-filled classrooms that felt hollow and smiles that could only be seen in the eyes of masked faces. This is what the Shippensburg University campus looked like to keep its faculty, staff and students safe as they returned for the fall 2020 semester.
These familiar images marked the international struggle to find normalcy in the uncharted territories of the COVID-19 pandemic. SU, along with the rest of the world, is nearing the other side of the pandemic. While it did not emerge unscathed, the university is still standing and preparing to sail into the 2021-2022 school year. The world changed immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the SU community can expect a more familiar campus when it returns for the fall 2021 semester.
“It’s masks off at Shippensburg University, as the campus sets sail to a pre-COVID normal for the fall 2021 semester,'' bold letters said at the top of a July 8 SU press release. Vaccinated community members will not have to socially distance or wear masks for the fall 2021 semester, according to the press release.
While the university is not requiring community members to be vaccinated, it
“strongly encourages” vaccinations and asks that unvaccinated individuals and visitors wear masks indoors and outdoors, said Kim Garris, SU vice president for external relations and communications.
Starting August 15, campus vaccination clinics will be open to all students, faculty and staff, Garris said. Several clinics will be held over the semester and individuals can sign up for them at https://raiderrespect.ship.edu/.
In-person learning, spectator access to sporting events and clubs and activity meetings will all be returning this fall, according to the press release. In-person events may continue through the semester but are contingent on vaccinations and unvaccinated people wearing masks to limit the spread, Garris said.
“We welcome faculty, staff and students to enjoy the campus experience they’ve longed for and missed. It’s been a challenging year, and I thank and commend everyone for doing their part. We’re ready to see smiling faces enjoying a vibrant campus rich with clubs, activities and a return to learning both the inside and outside of the classroom,” Interim SU President Charles Patterson said in the press release.
Sentiments expressing a return to normalcy for the Shippensburg University community can be found in many places on the university website.
“Raider, Set, Go! Ship is back with a full campus experience!” welcomes users on the Raider Respect website, the university’s website for COVID-19 related information.
SU is not requiring students or residents to be vaccinated but all unvaccinated residents are required to get tested during move-in, the website said. Unvaccinated residents will also be randomly selected for surveillance testing throughout the semester, according to the website.
The university is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) to provide non-invasive PCR nasal swab testing through the PADOH’s vendor AMI, Garris said. AMI is the same vendor that provided testing at the R3 center in the last six weeks of the 2021 spring semester, Garris noted.
The Etter Health Center will have vaccines available for students through a partnership with the Park Avenue Pharmacy in Chambersburg, Garris said.
Resident halls' guest and visitation policies will be open this year, Bill Yost, the executive director of housing residence life and conference services, said. This means non-students, off campus students, parents and families will be able to visit the residence halls.
Incoming students move-in day will be on August 19 and families are allowed to help this year, Yost said.
“The university is closely monitoring case counts at the local, county, regional and state level, as well as the vaccination rates among our community and may update its current guidance as found on raiderrespect.ship.edu.” Garris said.
For more information about COVID-19 and the Fall 2021 semester, visit https://raiderrespect.ship.edu/.