MOON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — While many of the biggest colleges and universities have yet to make their plans for this fall known, one local school announced it’s planning to welcome students back in late August.
Robert Morris University is still planning to open its campus as scheduled.
“We figured as a team that we needed to have a definitive plan to do what we needed to do to get our students on campus,” says Robert Morris University President Christopher Howard.
He says the plan is doable as long as this region has been moved, by late August, into the “green” phase under Governor Tom Wolf’s system of rolling back coronavirus restrictions.
“We’re social animals,” says Dr. Howard. “We do need interaction, and we need to be in community. But you can be in community but somewhat separated.”
RMU is planning to have students move into dorms but with increased sanitizing and close monitoring of everyone’s health.
Classes will be a bit different, too.
“In a classroom, you can monitor people coming in for temperatures and have them sit separately. You can have them wear masks. You can have your faculty – of course, you have to protect that group – they can wear masks as well.”
Changes to campus dining will include more widely-spaced seating and assigned times to reduce crowding. Takeout will be encouraged.
Sports are an open question for now.
For students who get infected, isolation will be possible in a currently unused dorm building.
And the school plans to create a “Colonial Corps” of campus personnel trained to do contact tracing after anyone tests positive.
It may all seem a bit daunting, but know this about Dr. Howard: he’s a Rhodes Scholar, retired Air Force helicopter pilot and intelligence officer who was awarded the Bronze Star.
“I’ve seen soldiers go downrange in Afghanistan and do things they didn’t think they could do,” he says. “And I know Pittsburgh. We have a history of overcoming adversity. There is a reservoir within you as a human being that you didn’t know you can tap into. And when you do, you can do this. So we’re going to do this safely and we’re going to do it together and we’re going to do it the right way.”
Other local colleges that have announced plans to have in-person classes this fall include Duquesne University, West Virginia University, Waynesburg University, California University of Pennsylvania and Grove City College.