Messiah is all about community. It’s who we are! We have deeply missed having our campus community together, which is why we are pleased to announce that — Messiah University will be reopening in August for an on-campus, in-person start to its fall 2020 session.* Campus leaders are collaborating with local healthcare systems and authorities on a reopening plan that prioritizes health and safety, student learning and care and support for our students.
*Messiah University's reopening plans are tightly integrated with evolving state and federal authorities' guidance and directives, and as such, are subject to ongoing change. Messiah will notify students and employees of urgent updates via campus email and weekly updates to our emergency blog.
Health and Safety
We're implementing clear protocols for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, quarantine care and containment, plus PPE, social distancing and campus cleaning to keep the Messiah community healthy.
Academic Quality and Flexibility
Messiah is offering its full range of fall 2020 courses in a high-flexibility, high- quality model providing effective learning whether students take courses in person or remotely based on their individual needs.
Student Care and Support
Students' needs are central to all that we do at Messiah, now more than ever. We'll have a new way of living, learning and interacting together this fall. And we'll provide the resources, people and flexibility to help students adapt and succeed.
We can do this! #TogetherAtMessiah
Why it's good to be part of a special community like Messiah in times like these
Adapting life and learning at Messiah
We are preparing to carry out our mission in some new ways this fall. While Messiah’s sense of authentic Christian educational community remains at our core, understandably, how we live, learn, worship and work together will need to be different--but we'll be here and ready to help you!
There is a lot of helpful information on this website, but we realize it's a lot to take in! So we've created the below checklists to help you focus as students and employees on the COVID-19 preparedness action steps that we all need to take before the start of the new academic year. Working together, we can do our part to keep our Messiah community healthy!
Employee checklist (PDF)
It is important to know that while it is our firm intent to proceed with the below adjusted academic calendar, Messiah’s plans may be subject to change based on fluid public health directives related to COVID-19. If changes are necessary, students and their families will receive notifications as quickly as possible via email, and via this website.
Undergraduate students adjusted academic calendar (2020-21)
Details about the undergraduate fall 2020 academc calendar:
- The first day of fall classes for all undergraduate students will be Tuesday, Aug. 25.
- The academic calendar has been updated for Fall 2020, to begin earlier in the fall, eliminate breaks (reducing travel), and conclude face-to-face instruction prior to Thanksgiving.
- Final assessments will be conducted on Tuesday-Friday of the week after Thanksgiving.
- In addition, the time between classes has been increased from 10 minutes, to 15 minutes, to allow for the additional time needed, due to social distancing, to move between classes.
Graduate students adjusted academic calendar (Fall 2020)
- Online graduate programs: The online graduate program calendar is remaining unchanged at this time. All course start and end dates, fall break and Thanksgiving break will continue as planned. If you have specific questions regarding the impact of COVID-19 on an internship, practicum or field experience, please contact your academic advisor and/or program director.
- Dietetic internship program: The dietetic internship program will run unchanged and will follow the published School of Graduate Studies calendar,
- Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) programs: Messiah University is committed to offering face-to-face instruction in the DPT and MOT courses and labs where face-to-face instruction is optimal and/or required by accreditors. Classes in the DPT and MOT Programs (all cohorts) will start as planned, on Aug. 23. However, social distancing protocols and other health and safety measures will be put in place to protect vulnerable members of our community.
- Additionally, we are adjusting the fall calendar to minimize the potential campus exposure that would likely result from students traveling and returning over breaks, particularly breaks in the mid-to-late fall. As a result, students in these programs we will no longer have a fall break, enabling face-to-face instruction to end by Nov. 25. Following the Thanksgiving break, all remaining instruction will be offered remotely until the end of the term on Dec.12.
- Classroom meeting times in Winding Hill are being finalized, and some previously planned face-to-face courses and labs will include some online instruction, while others may include both online and face-to-face sessions. Program directors will communicate the updated schedule of lectures and labs directly to students and faculty.
Messiah's Engle Center is coordinating the University's COVID-19 screening, testing, quarantine/isolation, contact tracing and medical care protocols—including serving as the liaison with government and health care authorities. The University is adding additional staff hours at the Engle Center and aligning its resources to continue to provide for the routine health of our students, while simultaneously navigating this public health crisis.This includes:
- providing resources and developing clear, concise procedures or COVID-19 testing, screening, surveillance and containment
- identifying locations and support protocols where students who need to be isolated or quarantined may be cared for on campus
- proactive stocking of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- expanding on-campus telehealth resources for students
See below to read highlights of the University's testing and quarantine protocols. Or you may read the University's full COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Summary of current COVID-19 testing plan:
- Prior to arrival: All residential students were asked to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to the start of the semester.
- Once on campus, all students will use the daily FalconLink check-in procedure to register their temperatures and presence of symptoms with the Engle Center.
- Symptomatic individuals or individuals with known exposure to a confirmed positive case will be tested and put in quarantine awaiting test results.
- The University has purchased and anticipates delivery of a point-of-care (POC) testing instrument later this fall to test for COVID-19, which will give results (>95% accuracy) in about 15 minutes.
- Prior to the arrival of the POC instrument, the Engle Center is prepared to do PCR testing for students and employees throughout the semester due to symptoms or exposure. Tests will be sent to local hospitals or diagnostic companies for processing.
Once on-site testing becomes available during the semester, students who are physically present on campus, even if not symptomatic, may be required to undergo COVID-19 testing as part of regular population sampling designed to keep the campus healthy and safe and support the continuation of face-to-face residential education.
The University is closely following the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) Guidelines. For those who test positive, we contact the DOH immediately according to HIPPA guidelines, and follow the appropriate contact tracing and notification protocols.
Messiah researched and considered the value of testing all students and employees prior to their arrival to campus. However, CDC guidelines in August indicated that pre-campus testing would be less effective in the reduction of COVID-19 than a comprehensive quarantine protocol and a daily required self-monitoring/reporting for the entire campus community—combined with a robust on-campus testing protocol for any student or employee who is at high risk because of symptoms or exposure. Accordingly, this is the testing strategy and protocol that the University adopted for the early semester. However, we are following the CDC guidelines carefully and will adapt as needed throughout the fall.
Caring for vulnerable students
Since the CDC considers persons with certain chronic illness to be at higher risk for COVID-19, members of our community with the chronic or uncontrolled illnesses listed below are encouraged to consider Messiah's fully remote learning option. In addition, this option is important to consider for individuals who have severe or uncontrolled anxiety or depression that could make the anticipated challenges of the fall semester particularly difficult to navigate. The chronic conditions that put a person at increased risk include the following:
- Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- Serious heart conditions Immuno-compromised (e.g., cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow/ transplant, immune-deficiencies, prolonged use of steroids or immune-weakening medication)
- Severe obesity (BMI 40 or higher)
- Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- Liver disease
If you self-identify as a member of one or more of these vulnerable population groups, but do not wish to be a fully remote student, it is important that you contact the Engle Center for Counseling and Health Services to discuss your situation and your options for care and support. On-campus graduate students should also contact their respective program director.
Caring for vulnerable employees
We recognize and support the need to provide accommodations for employees who are vulnerable to COVID-19 or employees who live with individuals who are vulnerable to COVID-19. Currently, per the CDC, an individual falls into the vulnerable category if they are over age 65 and/or have one or more of the following conditions:
- Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- Serious heart conditions Immuno-compromised (e.g., cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow/ transplant, immune-deficiencies, prolonged use of steroids or immune-weakening medication)
- Severe obesity (BMI 40 or higher)
- Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- Liver disease
Employees should contact their supervisor and human resources at firstname.lastname@example.org if they need to request and explore their options for an accommodation. Note: Accommodation requests are processed via human resources and require supporting documentation.
Campus deep cleaning
In preparation for the fall semester, Messiah staff have been deep cleaning and disinfecting all areas of campus, focusing additional resources on high-traffic and common-use areas. Teams are installing protective Plexiglas and other safety shields, increasing hand sanitizing stations, thinning out furniture/seating and adding signage to help with social distancing. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols will continue throughout the fall session in compliance with all state and CDC guidelines to help protect our campus community.
Residence hall cleaning
All residence hall buildings will be professionally disinfected before students return. Campus staff will be assigned to full cleaning bathrooms, hallways, lounges, kitchens, stairwells and public areas of residence halls once daily. Additional hourly sanitizing will be applied to high-touch areas. Residence Life will assign each student their own sink, commode, and shower in the bathrooms. Students will be provided supplies and ask to help wipe down their assigned bathroom facilities before and after use. Campus staff and student employees will be assigned bathrooms to full clean such that residence hall bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized seven days per week.
Addressing other potential health risks
The following additional steps will be taken to reduce the spread of illness:
- Classrooms will have sanitation spray and wipes so students and faculty can wipe down space between uses.
- Reduced amount of employees and students allowed in campus vehicles
- Campus water fountains will be temporarily turned off in compliance with PA Department of Health
- Hand sanitizer will be placed at building entrances
- Cleaning supplies will be available on each campus building floor
- Increased HVAC coil/duct cleaning and filter changing
- Installation of Plexiglas shields at main interaction points where six feet of distance is not feasible
Undergraduate course delivery
Messiah University is planning to offer the full range of previously scheduled fall 2020 classes, and is committed to offering residential, face-to-face instruction as part of its undergraduate experience this fall. In addition, these courses will be available for students who need to learn remotely, including internationally based students who may not be able to travel; so if students are not comfortable or able to attend in person, we still welcome you to begin classes with us this fall.
Central to our preparations are ensuring proactive health and safety measures in our in-person classroom setting. For instance, to achieve adequate social distance, some classroom assignments may be changed from typical locations while other courses will employ a staggered model of rotating the days when students attend face-to-face and the days when students attend remotely throughout the week. While the model used to ensure adequate health and safety may vary from course to course, every course will be designed and delivered in a way that provides an equitable, effective learning opportunity for students, whether they are present face-to-face or learning remotely. This type of high-flexibility, high-quality course delivery will provide students the most options based on their individual health needs.
The models of classes that Messiah will be using this fall
Enhanced face-to-face (F2F); Lecture-based classroom
This version of course delivery looks and feels very much like a traditional lecture classroom, but includes synchronous participation from remote students. Classroom technology makes it possible for remote students to hear and see at least the most critical elements of the classroom presentation/discussion and to interact with the instructor or peers. Course pedagogy is generally the same as it would be for a traditional lecture course delivery.
Enhanced face-to-face (F2F); Activity-based classroom
This version of flexible course delivery makes use of what some call a “flipped classroom” pedagogy. Direct instruction is generally asynchronous and moved in advance of the class hour and delivered via recorded mini-lectures, focused readings, or brief “primer” assignments. The class time is then devoted to activities such as problem solving, discussions, reviewing paper drafts, etc.
The HyFlex strategy effectively blends elements from the two prior course delivery strategies to provide options for the student and for content delivery. Students who can attend class F2F do so, while students who cannot attend the physical classroom time can participate either synchronously or asynchronously using materials available online that are functionally equivalent in content and rigor with what will be done in the classroom. While this option provides flexibility, it also entails significant investment in and changes to course design, preparation, and delivery.
A small percentage of courses may be identified by the institution as needing to be delivered entirely online. While this will not be the norm, this will a supported modality in that limited number of cases where/when necessary.
It should be noted that the options described above to apply to instruction that falls into the category of traditional classroom instruction. The plan for classes that don’t easily fit into this model, such as studios, labs, ensembles, and experiential learning opportunities, may be read below.
Readiness to pivot online
All of the models above are adaptable to a rapid transition to online, if the University needs to respond to public health directives, as well as a pivot back to Enhanced F2F/HyFlex. This enables Messiah to continue to provide quality academic instruction in a fluid way throughout the uncertainties that are inherent due to ongoing adjustments related to COVID-19.
Classroom modifications for social distancing
The CDC and the PA Department of Education (PDE) have provided guidelines for institutions of higher education that emphasize such things as the importance of hygiene, 6-foot spacing where feasible, and face coverings. Per PDE guidelines, “COVID-19 requires that postsecondary institutions rethink the ways in which they conduct learning and other activities on campus.” Specific areas that are being addressed are:
- Building flow has been adjusted in order to limit the spread of illness. Where possible, hallways will be one-way, stairways will be one-way, and building exit and entrances will be separate. Elevators should be occupied by only one person at a time.
- Proper signage will be important in facilitating new ways of moving around campus. Appropriate signs will be placed throughout the campus to assist with the new flow.
- ADA compliance will be maintained. Those with accessibility issues will not be required to follow building traffic patterns where prohibitive.
- All classroom spaces have been evaluated and adapted to allow for social distancing. New room capacities are posted in each space. Furniture should not be moved into, out of, or within rooms.
- The number of students who will attend class in-person at one time will be limited to accommodate appropriate social distancing of 6 feet between individuals when feasible.
- In situations where 6-foot spacing is not feasible, such as in laboratories or studios such as film that require closer proximity, increased PPE, such as glasses/goggles, lab coats, and gloves will be used. In addition, some professional organizations in these areas have published recommendations for mitigating risk that can be incorporated as well.
- Technology solutions are being provided to allow students to engage in group work, while still social distancing, and also continuing to incorporate remote learners into class discussions.
Residence Hall Living
Life in the residence halls will look different this year. Due to federal and state guidance on COVID-19 mitigation, it was determined that the safest way to house our students involved decreasing our housing capacity within the residence halls to limit possible exposure. To do that, some students from the apartments (as well as juniors in the residence halls) were offered to reside at nearby Oakwood Hills apartments for the coming year. As such, Oakwood Hills will serve as an extension of our on-campus housing offerings this year. This move allowed some students previously assigned in our traditional residence halls to move into apartments, creating significantly less condensed living on each residence hall floor.
Students living in on-campus housing will have the expectations and guidelines related to life together in the season of COVID-19 thoroughly reviewed and explained to them during Welcome Week and orientation.
Student Move-in Plan
To reduce congestion and close contact with others, the on-campus housing move-in process for both new and returning students will look different this year:
New & Transfer Residential Students
The moving in of incoming new and transfer students will be spread out and staggered over three days: August 20, 21 and 22. In early July, students will receive an email with a link and instructions to sign up to arrive on one of these three days, indicating either a morning or afternoon arrival time and informing the University of how many guests will accompany them. Student are strongly encouraged to limit their guests to two family members or caregivers. There are 90 slots open for each morning and each afternoon on each of the three days, allowing 180 students to move in safely each day. In mid-July, incoming residential students will receive an email from Housing with their fall housing assignment and a specific check-in time that is within their chosen arrival date and time frame.
Returning Residential Students
The move-in process for returning students will take place from Aug. 21–24. Returning students will receive an email in mid-July with instructions on how to sign up for a move-in date and time. Returning residential students will be limited to two guests to assist them.
Early Arrival Residential Students
Students (both new and returning) that need to arrive to campus early (prior to Aug. 20) for University-sponsored reasons or due to special circumstances will be provided special instructions through email by the University unit sponsoring their early arrival (e.g., fall athletics, Multicultural Student Programs, International Student Programs, Teacher Education Program) or from Housing.
Welcome Week and orientation plan
All new first-year and transfer students will experience a modified Welcome Week and orientation to our campus community. Every effort is being made to create a safe and healthy experience while maintaining Messiah’s strong commitment to belonging in community. Student leaders and orientation leaders will be available to assist as needed throughout Welcome Week.
New and transfer students will arrive on one of three days: Aug. 20, 21 or 22. Upon arrival, students will check in with the Office of Student Involvement & Leadership Programs in Hitchcock Arena in Sollenberger Sports Center on their respective check-in time (assigned for morning or afternoon). During check-in, students will receive a Welcome Week packet with schedule, a Messiah University protective cloth mask, and a Welcome Week t-shirt. They will also pick-up their residence hall and mailbox keys (residential students) and take care of other important start-of-the-semester matters. Residential students will be directed to their respective residence hall to get moved in and settled. Activities for students and families will follow, with families expected to depart campus at the conclusion of their respective time frame (morning or afternoon). In the evening, students who arrived that day will celebrate together with President Phipps at Orchard Hill.
Final information for the Welcome Week schedule will be posted at messiah.edu/welcomeweek. Watch your Messiah email and the website for more details! We're excited to welcome you and your family to campus!
Undergraduate students: isolation and quarantine care
While we are working hard to promote a healthy and safe campus environment, Messiah University is also prepared to care for the needs of students who may have been exposed to, or who test positive for, COVID-19. The below plans reflect our commitment to students' individual health needs and the safety of the campus community.
For the purposes of this student care section, the following definitions apply:
- Quarantine - Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health and temperature, and follow directions from the health center.
- Isolation - is used to separate people presumed infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others.
Symptomatic undergraduate residential students
When a residential student presents with symptoms of COVID-19, there are several important steps following their testing procedure. First, the student will complete the STUDENT COVID form to provide critical information related to his/her activity on campus and to create a list of close contacts. The form also gives permission for the Engle Center to make appropriate contacts, and the following steps will be taken for the student's care:
- Residence Life is notified and an appropriate isolation housing assignment on campus will be made for the student. Residence Life will coordinate the student’s arrival at quarantine housing and arrange for getting belongings to the student.
- Dining is notified and the student's dining plan for quarantine meals is established.
- The Engle Center will send notice to the student’s professors, coaches, supervisors, RA, and RD so care and coordination of the student's coursework and other activities may be supported.
- The Engle Center will assign a visiting nurse to visit the student in person once a day and provide an additional optional telehealth visit.
Students may only be cleared to return to campus life and his/her residence through the Engle Center. This can happen either because the student's COVID test returns negative, or the patient is no longer symptomatic and no longer contagious. In order to consider no longer symptomatic and no longer contagious the patient will need to complete 10 days of isolation and have at least 3 days with no symptoms and no fever reducing medications.
Undergraduate quarantine and isolation housing
Smith Apartments, Sections A and B and the Climenhaga Homestead have been reserved for on campus quarantine and isolation housing. These facilities have separated entrances from other living spaces and accidental access can be precluded by blocking card access or locked doors. Each person in quarantine/isolation will be designated a room with access to a private bathroom.
Messiah University Dining Services has a solid reputation for outstanding food, great service and an award winning food safety program. Dining Services is prepared to enhance the already existing excellent safety practices and protocols based upon guidance from guidelines of the State, the CDC, and our local regulatory authorities to ensure a safe and quality dining experience for all of our students, staff and guests.
Executive summary: Messiah University Dining Safety Plan
- All students, staff and guests are required to wear a mask in the dining facilities until they are seated at a table.
- The dining rooms and food courts will have furniture and spacing arranged to maximize social distancing.
- The dining rooms will be adjusted to fifty percent capacity, and each restaurant will have separate and specific entrances and exits posted.
- Automatic hand sanitizers will be placed at each restaurant entrance as well as throughout the dining areas.
- Six foot distancing signage will also be posted throughout the dining facilities and Plexiglas barriers with be installed at each register and food serving location.
- The culinary service in the Lottie Nelson dining hall will be offering to-go, no touch or minimal touch services with all self-service stations being utilized so that students may dine in Lottie, the Martin Commons, in Brubaker or at other locations on campus.
- China and silverware will be introduced back into service within two weeks of reopening Lottie for those who choose to dine in.
- Lottie, The Falcon, The Union Café, The Café Diem and the Café @ Winding Hill will each offer contactless payment options, and an extensive variety of to-go offerings and services.
- We offer on-line ordering which is highly recommended for fast and efficient service pick up or dining in at both the Union Café and The Falcon.
- If quarantine meals are be required, Dining Services in partnership with the Engle Health Center has a fully automated quarantine meal service program designed to deliver meals directly to the student’s door.
- The annual Dining Services employee orientation has been designed to include extensive and comprehensive training for all Dining Services employees regarding effectively and consistently maintaining the highest standards for safe and sanitary foods and facilities in light of COVID-19.
- In addition to our extensive daily cleaning and sanitizing operational checklists, every contact surface within each operation will be sanitized and or disinfected after each use.
- Specific COVID-19 training sessions will demonstrate proper personal hygiene, hand washing, cleaning surfaces, social distancing, glove usage and COVID-19 symptoms awareness.
- Every full-time employee in Dining Services is a Certified ServSafe Manager with the National Restaurant Association and will be responsible for the initial and ongoing quality training of our part time and student employees.
The Dining Services team is excited to welcome our students to campus and will work tirelessly to ensure that each campus restaurant is a safe, healthy, inviting and quality dining experience for our students and guests.
The Division of Student Success and Engagement is preparing to welcome back our undergraduate students with a meaningful, modified offering of cocurricular programs, services and facilities designed to protect their health and safety during the challenging circumstances of COVID-19.
Read an overview of how Messiah University will facilitate counseling services, chapel and campus ministries, athletics (including access to the fitness center and gyms), academic support services and career and professional development for students.
Regarding Messiah's adjusted fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters:
Messiah University is absorbing significant costs to implement a comprehensive approach to safely operating our campus, diminishing the spread of COVID-19 and delivering a high-quality enhanced educational model that flexibly offers the majority of our coursework both face-to-face and remotely. While there will be no fees or additional charges billed to students for these measures, there will also be no accommodation for refunds to students due to the announced modifications to the 2020-2021 fall and spring semesters.
However, if further government directives require Messiah to move its coursework online earlier than planned, senior administration would review and consider issuing credit to students for room and board. Any university calendar adjustments during this challenging time have been made, and will continue to be made, specifically with the needs and safety of our students, their hometown communities, and the greater Messiah community in mind.
Regarding an individual student's change in status from residential to remote-only (once semester is underway):
Consistent with Messiah University’s current refund policy, students choosing to move from residential to remote-only status during the fall 2020 semester will receive credits to be applied to the spring 2021 academic term. Housing charges are adjusted on a pro-rated basis depending on the official date of the student’s status change. For students with dining dollar meal plans, any unused dining dollars will be credited to their spring 2021 bill, and the operations charge is nonrefundable. For students with ala carte plans, any remaining ala carte balances will be credited to their spring 2021 bill. It is important to note that changes to remote-only status after Sept. 30, 2020 will not result in room or board credits. Questions regarding this policy, or an individual student’s account, may be directed to Student Financial Services at email@example.com or 717.691.6004.
Academic modifications: on-campus graduate programs
Some accommodations have been made to accomplish appropriate distancing measures in face-to-face classes and labs. Faculty will deliver some didactic courses entirely online while others will be delivered in a hybrid format. The decision to pivot a face-to-face course to 100% online will be made by the institution.
Laboratory educational settings have been modified to enforce social distancing, according to square footage in the room. Students will be placed in lab groups for the entire semester to limit exposure. All students in laboratory courses are trained at the beginning of the course in health and safety procedures, and this instruction will include instruction in COVID-19 transmission prevention and completing lab work while social distancing and wearing a mask. For learning activities that require modified (closer) distancing in labs to fulfill learning objectives, the School Dean will approve proposals from Programs that outline the parameters and precautions, such as additional PPE, for these learning experiences.
Guest speakers (not Messiah University employees) for on-campus courses will be strictly limited to those whose engagement is a critical component of the curriculum. In most cases, guests will engage with students virtually. Due to the need to limit visitors, in-person guest speakers are not permitted for clubs and organizations.
The on-campus graduate programs do not offer a remote learning option. Faculty will work with individual students who need to miss classes/labs so that each student can reach the appropriate learning outcomes. All faculty will utilize CANVAS, recorded lectures, video demonstrations, and online case studies to supplement the face-to-face lab courses.
On-Campus Graduate Student COVID-19 Expectations and Accountability
1. All on-campus graduate students (regardless of where they have been living prior to the fall semester) are expected to sign and abide by the community promise and follow best practice health and safety practices in anticipation to the start of the semester and throughout the semester. This includes:
- Wash your hands often and practice good hygiene.
- If you leave your home for any reason, you must wear a mask, practice strict social distancing and be vigilant in hand-washing.
- Arrange for routine medical appointments to occur more than 2 weeks before your arrival on campus.
- Avoid public areas including malls, theaters and large public gathering spaces.
- Monitor your temperature daily and watch for symptoms. If symptoms develop, call your health care provider BEFORE seeking in-person care.
- Do not use public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
- Postpone any travel.
- Participate in the Falcon Health COVID-19 Screening
2. If a student is traveling to PA from a CDC-warned state or hotspot or then they should plan to quarantine in PA for no less than 14 days before their first visit to campus. For example, if the first in-person class is held on August 24th, they should arrive in PA and begin self-quarantine no later than August 10th.
Clinical, Field Work and Practicum
Prior to resuming clinical, field work and or practicum experiences, students must complete the School of Graduate Studies Return to Clinical, Field Work/Practicum check list indicating they have read and agree to comply with the policy including signing and returning the form. Students must also sign the institutional waiver that informs them of the potential disease risk. Students must also follow all the clinical site-specific policies and procedures.
Risk mitigation practices and expectations for employees
As offices and departments prepare for the reopening of campus and develop plans for proceeding with the important work of the university, employees need to be vigilant in taking measures to control the spread of COVID-19 and prevent an outbreak on campus. As such, employees reporting to campus will be expected to participate fully in risk mitigation behaviors. As such, Messiah University has outlined six health practices that all employees must follow:
- Employees need to a mask at all times, unless working alone in an office.
- Employees need to work in a socially distant manner
- Employees need to wipe/disinfect work spaces (key pads, desk tops, counter tops, phones) frequently
- Employees need to take breaks to wash hands several times a day
- Employees need to stay home if feeling sick or exhibiting any symptoms related to COVID-19 (Fever, chills, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, etc.)
- Employees must exercise respiratory etiquette.
The following information details how we expect employees to implement these health principles:
Cloth masks are required in public spaces on campus where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as when entering or exiting campus, lounges, hallways, restrooms, etc. In addition, masks are required in shared work spaces. Employees working along in an office may remove their masks while alone. Messiah University will provide all employees with a cloth mask. If additional masks are needed, employees should speak with their supervisor. Employees who, for health reasons, cannot wear a mask will be expected to wear a shield and should discuss this with their supervisors.
Social distancing policy
To ensure the protection of employees and students, the following social distancing practices must be followed:
• Until further notice, meetings of more than just a couple people must be held virtually if social distancing cannot be practiced. Even when social distancing may be possible, it is preferred that meetings be virtual and all meetings must have a virtual or remote call-in option.
• Employees and students must not gather in groups, especially in confined areas, including elevators.
• Common spaces such as break rooms, lounges, and conference rooms may be taken off-line for the fall semester. At a minimum break rooms and lunchrooms will be limited to food preparation only. When possible, employees are encouraged to bring meals that do not require refrigeration or heating.
Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
Practicing basic hygiene and respiratory etiquette has been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It also demonstrates to others our care and concern for their health and wellbeing. While practices such as frequent hand washing or wearing a cloth mask may seem inconvenient, to those around us, especially to those in the vulnerable category, these are tangible expressions of thoughtfulness for one another.
Disinfect common spaces
All members of the Messiah University Community will be called up to assist in reducing the spread of illness by disinfecting common spaces. Employees and students must not use anyone else’s personal protective equipment. Where possible, employees should not share phones, computer equipment, desks, cubicles, workstations, offices, or other personal work tools and equipment.
There are some situations where work tools (including Messiah-owned vehicles) must be shared. In those situations, employees are required to take precautions to sanitize them before and after using. As such, the first step in using the equipment is to wipe it or spray it thoroughly with appropriate sanitizing supplies before beginning work. The last step when finishing use is to repeat this process. Likewise, employees should expect to wipe down equipment, copiers, countertops, phones and workstations regularly. Campus Events will provide areas with cleaning materials.
Employees are expected wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water frequently throughout the day, and especially at the beginning and end of their time on campus, after visiting high traffic locations, prior to eating, and after using the toilet. It is important that supervisors encourage taking breaks to wash hands. Hand sanitizer dispensers are also available and can be used for hand hygiene in place of soap and water when hand washing is not immediately available.
Cover your cough or sneeze
Employees are expected to cover their mouth and nose with their sleeve or a tissue when coughing or sneezing and avoid touching their face—in particular their mouth, nose, and eyes—with their hands. Tissues should be disposed of in the trash and individuals should wash or sanitize their hands immediately afterward.
Daily health screenings and accountability
The University will provide all employees with an on-line health screen program: The Falcon Health COVID-19 Check-in. This program can be accessed through FALCON link. Directions will be sent to employees via mass email.
Prior to entering campus all employees must complete the Falcon Health COVID-19 Check-in. The first time an employee completes the screening, the employee will be required to answer a series of questions. Based upon the response to these questions, the employee will either be cleared to continue with the daily screening or be directed to contact the Engle Center before moving forward. Thereafter, a daily temperature and symptom check-in will appear on the program. Employees should be prepared to take and report their temperature at least daily. In addition, employees will be asked two questions regarding their current health status and then asked to attest to their answer:
- QUESTION 1: Do you have any symptoms of illness?
- QUESTION 2: Have you been in direct contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days?
Employees who are able to respond “NO” to both questions, are clear to work and be on campus that day. Employees answering “YES” to one or both questions, do not come to work and follow the steps below for reporting COVID-19 illness while at home.
Reporting COVID-19 illness policy while at home
Step 1: Do not come to work.
Step 2: Notify your supervisor that you are ill and not coming to work.
Step 3: Seek immediate guidance from the Engle Center by calling 717.691.6035 or emailing Messiah’s COVID-19 triage nurse at COVIDtriagenurse@messiah.edu.
Step 1: Notify the Engle Center at 717.691.6035.
Step 2: Inform your team that a member of your team is out sick, being careful to share only the
information your employee wishes be shared.
At a minimum, employees must stay home until they are fever-free for three consecutive days
without fever-reducing medication and ten days since the onset of symptoms.
Reporting COVID-19 illness policy while at work
Step 1: Ensure you are wearing a mask.
Step 2: Inform your supervisor.
Step 3: Seek guidance from the Engle Center by calling 717.691.6035.
Step 1: Ensure your employee is wearing a mask.
Step 2: Notify the Engle Center by calling 717.691.6035.
Step3: Inform your team that a member of your team is out sick, being careful to share only the
information your employee wishes be shared.
At a minimum, employees must stay home until they are fever-free for three consecutive days
without fever-reducing medication and ten days since the onset of symptoms.
Engle Center COVID-19 preparedness plan
As part of the Messiah University plans to reopen in the fall, the Engle Center has established a COVID-19 preparedness plan that includes a dedicated COVID triage nurse. For the purposes of contact tracing, all members of the community need to report symptoms and concerns related to exposure to COVID-19 to the triage nurse. The Engle Center is prepared to provide guidance to employees regarding navigating COVID-19, including having testing available for employees and recommendations for where to have testing done for family members. Any health information shared with the Engle Center is protected by HIPPA.
Communication of exposure
If an employee is presumed positive for COVID-19 (clinically or test-confirmed), the Engle Center will notify individuals having been identified as direct contacts of a potential exposure and advise about next steps.
Messiah University leadership has thoughtfully reviewed and discussed institutional travel for the fall semester. Given the ongoing concerns related to growing cases of COVID-19 across the country, and in order to keep the health and safety of the campus as its top priority, along with managing the financial challenges of COVID-19, the University will be implementing the following decisions from Aug. 1, 2020 through May 15, 2021:
Residential student travel
Residential undergraduate students should only leave campus only when necessary.* The more residents who travel off campus, the greater the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 and introducing it to our campus community. If students are aware of exposure to someone with COVID-19 while off campus, they should contact the Engle Center to inform them and receive guidance.
*Note: Students may leave campus for off-campus jobs, internships, clinicals, practicums, etc. if their employers are following Messiah's guidelines for COVID-19 health and safety, including requiring masks and social distancing.
Educational student travel (domestic and international)
All domestic and international student educational travel for the 2020-2021 academic year, including J-term and May-term has been cancelled or postponed. The institution is committed to providing alternatives for any students who need these experiences in order to meet graduation requirements
On-campus graduate student travel
On-campus graduate students should use discernment when traveling to certain locales, practice physical distancing and wear masks. Students should refrain from visiting and traveling through COVID-19 “hotspots.” Students, who choose to travel from/through a warned state/hotspot, must quarantine in the state of Pennsylvania for 14 days prior to returning to face-to-face classes, labs and clinical sites.
What are the expectations for students and employees around attending off-campus events?
Research has clearly shown that the COVID-19 virus spreads very efficiently at large gatherings. Specifically, epidemiological analyses of COVID-19 have determined that indoor spaces in which people are in closer proximity leads to “superspreading.” The University expects any community members who live, study or work campus to avoid such risks. Therefore, as agreed to in the Messiah Community Promise, students and employees are expected to avoid large gatherings (defined as 25 or more people indoors or 250 people outdoors).**
For all gatherings and events, regardless of size, the following parameters must be in place:
- Masks must be worn by attendees at all times.
- Social distancing of six feet must be practiced by all attendees.
- Increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols must be in place.
- Good respiratory etiquette should be encouraged and practiced.
- Everyone must wash their hands frequently and hand sanitizer must be readily accessible for times when hand washing may not be immediately possible.
- If the event involves children’s programming, it should also follow these same guidelines.
- Everyone must commit to staying home when not feeling well.
Employees: If these standards cannot be met, employees whose work requires them to be present on campus may not attend the event, as the required 14-day quarantine would prevent them from fulfilling their employment expectations.
Students: Any student who lives, studies or works on campus must follow the guidelines as outlined above. Failing to follow the guidelines will result in referral to the student conduct process which may result in jeopardizing your enrollment for the term.
**Note: Churches have been granted an exception to exceed the number of people allowed for a large gathering, but all other parameters must still be followed. View Messiah University’s parameters for off-campus, in-person church attendance.
1. Travel/professional development and conferences will be reduced and will only be approved under clear guidelines and process.
- As the University keeps the health and safety of our campus community a priority, travel will happen on a VERY limited basis for the fall semester. General travel to in-person conferences and training will be limited to those that: 1) an employee must attend in person to fulfill certification processes necessary to fulfill requirements of their position 2) if they are presenting/speaking, or 3) if they are serving in a leadership position at the conference.
- All travel will require the advance approval of the president, employee’s vice president or Provost’s Cabinet-level supervisor (dean, vice-provost, associate provost, provost). .
- Travel in the areas of admissions and development will be limited to times when meetings/recruitment cannot happen via electronic methods.
Major gift officers, who will be working primarily from home, may make selected donor visits according to Development Office travel guidelines.
For Admissions (graduate and undergraduate):
Admissions will review recruitment fairs and determine a travel plan as those events are scheduled.
- Athletics will follow the guidelines issued by NCAA and the MAC.
- CDC guidelines related to minimizing risk during travel are to be followed.
- Approvals required: All travel must be approved in advance by the Provost or division Vice President prior based on a written proposal submitted by the employee to document how their proposed travel meets the above criteria.
- International Travel: All international travel is prohibited.
- Mode of Travel: Institutional travel for Fall 2020 should be conducted using a private (university-owned, or carefully cleaned rental, or personal) vehicle. For guidelines on reserving or renting vehicles go to the purchasing website at https://www.messiah.edu/info/20737/travel_services/1198/travel_by_vehicle. Due to social distancing requirements, limits will be set on the number of persons permitted to travel together. Cars will permit a total of two persons, mini vans three persons and 15 passenger vans four persons. Travel by air, bus or train are not permitted. Due to escalated concern of COVID-19 and the impact on our community, for this academic year, employees are not to transport students in their personal vehicles for personal reasons.
- Distance: Employees should limit travel to local and regional destinations that can be accessed within a day’s drive (eight hours or less) by private vehicle. Note: Travel to areas considered hot spots or increasing cases within this distance could be denied.
- COVID spread at destination: Employees should not travel to areas where the spread of COVID is high at the destination (or at locations being visited en route to the destination). Employees may travel to domestic destinations where the spread of COVID is the same or lower than current levels in the Harrisburg Region. https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Travelers.aspx
- Health and Safety Parameters at Destination: Destination venues must have published protocols related to COVID that are in-line with CDC recommendations. Information related to this must be in the written proposal requesting permission to travel.
- Fulfilling work expectations: Employees may not undertake travel where it is known in advance that such travel will impede their ability to do their job (e.g. traveling to a known “hotspot” location as designated by the state or CDC that would result in a required quarantine upon completion of travel).
Institutional travel in academic year 2020-2021 must abide by the above guidelines and be approved by the employee’s vice president or Provost’s Cabinet-level supervisor (dean, vice-provost, associate provost, provost).
Employee Personal Travel Statement
The University asks that employees avoid unnecessary personal travel and recommends that all personal travel undertaken by employees follow the guidelines listed above for institutional travel. As said above, the University reserves the right to require community members to declare travel out of state with the understanding that a return to campus might require a quarantine period.
Campus visitor policy during COVID-19
Residential student visitors
Federal and state guidance on reopening safely instruct institutions to limit visitors and non-essential personnel in residential spaces. Ideally, the nuclear and extended family units should remain closed to others, but this is challenging in a community such as ours. For this reason, a phased approach to visitation will occur to better ensure the health and safety of all.
For the first two weeks of classes, there is no visitation. Students must not enter a floor or apartment or house if they do not reside there. If the campus remains free of COVID-19 cases after two weeks, visitation will resume with modified parameters outlined below.
- Residential students may visit fellow residential students. Both the hosts and visiting residential students must wear protective cloth masks during the duration of the visit.
- Until further notice, no off-campus visitors are permitted in university residences, including commuters and student family members.
- Residential student visitors cannot have had COVID-19 symptoms nor been exposed to someone with the virus within two weeks prior to the visit.
- Residential student visitors must remain a Falcon Wingspan apart and should not share furniture together with another person at the same time (futons, couches, chairs, room beds, etc.). Furniture should be cleaned and disinfected immediately after use.
- Residential student visitors are not permitted to be in floor lounges.
- No floor bathroom use by residential student visitors. Residential student visitors may use the public restrooms located in the main building spaces.
- There is a maximum limit of three individuals in a traditional residence hall single or double room; four individuals in a traditional residence hall triple room.
- Residents in apartments are limited to three additional residential visitors at a time with the ability to maintain a Falcon Wingspan apart. As always, no visitation in bedrooms by the opposite sex.
- Each special interest house will be provided with a maximum occupancy related to residential student visitors.
- Resident assistants are considered essential personnel and will perform walking rounds throughout floors and buildings, per usual, but wearing protective cloth masks as they do. Adjustments may be made as necessary for health and safety reasons. Other authorized campus employees will also be permitted access to residential spaces on an as-needed basis with health and safety requirements in place.
If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the campus community, visitation may be restricted or eliminated to mitigate the spread of the virus. If this occurs, applicable guidance will be communicated to residents in a timely fashion.
Undergraduate admissions visits
The Undergraduate Admissions Office is currently hosting a limited number of on-campus visits each week for prospective students and their families. Learn more.
Graduate enrollment and campus visits
The preference is that all visits, tours and interviews would be conducted virtually. Graduate Enrollment will have limited staff on site. Prospective students who desire to visit campus must schedule an advance appointment with the graduate enrollment staff. All guests will respond to an institutional health questionnaire before coming to campus. Guests must wear masks and maintain social distancing during their visit. All guests will be informed to notify graduate enrollment if they have symptoms or are diagnosed with COVID19 within 14 days of their visit.
Our relationship with the local community is important to Messiah University. Messiah’s campus is private property, but as good neighbors, we have been pleased to provide access to the public as we are able, including the library, areas for walking, use of the fitness trail, and access to the Yellow Breeches Creek by way of Messiah University’s Starry Athletic Complex.
However, as we navigate the significant safety concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, our top priority is the health of our students, employees and surrounding region. As a result, we need to limit current access to Messiah’s campus to students, employees and authorized visitors only. We regret that public access to Messiah University’s campus is currently closed until further notice. This includes a temporary restriction on access to the library, areas for walking, use of the fitness trail, Starry Athletic Complex, and access to the Yellow Breeches via campus property. We appreciate your cooperation as we care for our campus community, and we look forward to being able to open campus to the public again as soon as health and safety measures permit.
Until further notice, Messiah University will not allow employees to have visitors (e.g., friends, family, etc.) on campus, unless the employee lives on campus. Employees who live on campus are asked to limit their guests and are responsible for screening guests prior to their arrival on campus. Anyone with exposure to others with COVID-19 or who are exhibiting symptoms of illness consistent with COVID-19 are forbidden to visit campus. Employees living on campus are expected to be vigilant in avoiding bringing visitors to campus who may spread COVID-19.
Only where meeting face-to-face is business-critical may in-person visits with vendors and contractors occur on campus. The vast majority of business meetings need to be held remotely. All visitors will be required to complete a health screening before they enter campus. Anyone with exposure to others with COVID-19 or who are exhibiting symptoms of illness consistent with COVID-19 are forbidden to visit campus.
Specific plans for the Office of Development: Development officers may schedule a donor visit on campus under specific guidelines. All appointments must be scheduled in advance and for no more than four (4) total participants. All appointments for meals need to be scheduled for an off-campus venue. As is the requirement for all visitors, guests must report that their temperature is under 100.4; that they are not experiencing any symptoms of illness; and they have not been exposed to anyone who is positive or presumed positive for COVID-19. In addition, the following practices must be followed:
- Everyone must wear a mask.
- Social distancing of 6 feet is to be maintained and as such guests should be directed to meet the officer at a location other than the office (unless the office size allows for 6 foot social distancing).
- All guests will report to the development office if after visiting campus, they have developed symptoms or are diagnosed with COVID 19 within 14 days of the visit.
Events and gatherings: COVID-19 guidelines
Events have always been an important part of campus and community life at Messiah. However, given the mitigation risks involved with large crowds, the way that we do events will necessarily look different this year. These changes are in line with expectations from the State Department of Health and guidance from the CDC for Events and Gatherings. Highlights of changes to the campus events and gathering procedures are listed below.
Event guidelines and feasibility
The majority of traditional events held in the fall will not be able to take place in-person. Large events that bring outside guests to campus such as Family Weekend, Grandparent’s Day, Homecoming, the American Democracy Lecture, and Messiah Christmas have already been cancelled. Event hosts must critically evaluate the need to have an in-person event this fall. Any event that can effectively be moved to a virtual platform should pursue that option. In cases where a virtual environment would be detrimental to meeting the event’s goals, the guidelines below will be in place.
Event approval process
Departments, faculty, and student groups have traditionally been able to reserve campus space virtually through the EMS application. If there were no set-up, catering, or technical needs for the event, the reservation was finalized automatically. Due to the considerations that must be made for each event, regardless of size or needs, this process must be made more robust. Any department, division, employee, or student group wishing to host an event will be required to complete a web-request form. This form will launch the planning process to determine if the event is feasible to take place in person. Conference & Event Services staff will then work with the contact on the details of the event. As in the past, no arrangements should be made with catering and no advertising should take place prior to receiving approval from Conference & Event Services.
During the fall semester, no attendees from off-campus will be permitted at any indoor event held on campus. The only exceptions to this will be immediate family members of students participating in athletic contests, arts events, or academic presentations or ceremonies. This policy will provide maximum protection for the student population, while still accounting for the need to have family support at significant events in the academic careers of students such as senior recitals, research presentations, and athletic competitions. Taking this approach also reserves the majority of event seating for our students. Messiah University students, both residential and commuter, and employees are permitted to attend events.
Limited capacities and seating layouts
All seating at events will be laid out in a way that allows for social distancing. This will result in greatly reduced capacities in all event spaces. Seats and rows will be blocked off as necessary and ushers will be required at many events in order to assist with spacing. Events may require reserved seating as opposed to open or general admission seating. An event which would typically take place with attendees at round tables may need to adapt to one in which attendees sit in rows of chairs. Events that cannot ensure adequate social distancing among attendees will not be approved. One exception is residence hall floor events or gatherings. Because these floors represent an “extended family” they may meet in a space with adjusted social distancing guidelines in place. In this case, no one outside of the “extended family” should be allowed to attend the event.
The event contact will be responsible for ensuring that all attendees adhere to social distancing requirements and safety protocols such as mask wearing, hand washing/sanitizing, and surface cleaning as needed. Event contacts are responsible for ensuring that the number of attendees does not exceed the new capacity of the space (posted near the door).
Meetings at Messiah
Meetings should be conducted virtually whenever possible. No in-person meetings should take place unless 6 feet of social distance can be maintained.
Private lessons, coaching or tutoring
In accordance with our off-campus visitor policy, private lessons, coaching, or tutoring of any non-Messiah students may not take place on campus. This limits the exposure of the university community as well as reduces the liability of the institution.
Facility use by guests
No guests will be permitted to use Messiah University facilities. This includes those that have traditionally been open to the public, such as Murray Library, the indoor track, Fredrickson Natatorium, and gymnasium space for activities such as “noontime basketball” or “noontime soccer”.
Guest speakers should be scheduled as ZOOM/virtual guests as often as possible. Guests speakers on-campus will be strictly limited to those whose engagement is considered a critical component of the curriculum and/or co-curricular programming. Due to the need to limit visitors, in-person guest speakers are not permitted for clubs and organizations.
Messiah University will suspend all facility rentals through Nov. 30, 2020. This policy will be reevaluated on Oct 1, 2020, to determine if rentals can begin at the conclusion of the fall semester.
How we'll communicate with you
Messiah University is utilizing a mix of the following communication tools to keep its campus stakeholders--including current undergraduate and graduate students, current parents, employees, prospective students/parents, and the appropriate government/health authorities--informed about its campus reopening strategies and related COVID-19 health and safety measures:
- Messiah’s COVID-19 resource website
- Messiah Emergency Blog
- Bridge to Reopening Messiah website
- Campus mass email system (current students, employees, current parents and alumni)
- Slate CRM (prospective undergraduate and graduate students and prospective undergraduate parents)
- Messiah’s institutional social media platforms
- Student and parent portals (current students and parents)
- Canvas Learning Management System (current students and employees)
- Campus health and safety signage (particularly in common areas like dining halls, gyms, classrooms, labs)
Timely updates: In addition to communicating Messiah’s initial reopening master plan and related protocols, the University will use the above methods to continue to update stakeholders about breaking developments, news and changes in a timely and transparent manner.
Clery Act Compliance
In compliance with The Clery Act, and guidance from the U.S. Department of Education regarding Clery’s intersection with COVID-19, Messiah University will issue a campus Emergency Notification (EN) to students and employees at the start of the academic year informing them about COVID-19, along with the necessary health and safety precautions, as well as where to obtain ongoing information about the number of on-campus COVID cases, and how to connect to the resources of regional health authorities and the CDC. The University will also provide a banner on messiah.edu that will provide this information to the broader campus community.