Updates to the information on this page are made as data becomes available. The most recent update was made on 1/26/21.
View the Pre-Arrival Checklists for both resident and commuter students regarding the College's COVID-19 policies and procedures for the spring 2021 semester.
Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students Mike McKinney '02 sent emails to all students on Dec. 11, 14 and 16 outlining the College's COVID-19 policies for the spring semester, testing guidelines and quarantine protocols. Below are those messages for reference.
Help Thiel College #MakeItToMay! With the support of the entire Thiel community, we will be able to complete the fall 2020 semester on-campus and in-person.
The safety of Thiel College's students, faculty and staff is our top priority. The College has been proactive in relaying information to students, parents and the entire Thiel community during these unprecedented times. Below are all of the COVID-19 specific campus updates and health guidelines.
We will continue to share campus updates and information to this page as the situation progresses.
The following information is a general reference guide to the College’s COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan.
Monitoring Health Conditions
This component of our plan has been developed with the goal of monitoring the health of our employees and students, and to detect possible COVID-19 infections. In the ideal situation, reliable testing would be available, and the institution would partner with an outside organization to test all employees and students upon their arrival to campus and randomly throughout the pandemic. However, given current availability of tests, variances in quality and accuracy, and the lack of a vaccine, the College is planning to implement screening processes to monitor and detect infection.
The following sections address screening processes and monitoring strategies for employees, students, and visitors. As the campus populates with more students, employees and guests, the College plans to add more screening stations to accommodate the demand. Like all other components of the plan, monitoring and screening strategies are subject to change based on developments of the pandemic, state and federal guidance, and the testing of our policies, practices, and protocols.
Screening of Employees, Students, and Visitors
As part of our wide-scale safety measures, the College will implement screening procedures. Since individuals infected with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic (without symptoms), our screening procedures are not considered a “silver-bullet” approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Rather, they are being implemented with other steps to avoid or mitigate the spread of the virus: physical distancing; the wearing of face coverings or masks; distancing in office spaces; increased cleaning and disinfecting of common areas and touch-points; changes to programming; and frequent hand washing and disinfecting.
During the months of June and July and when campus is less occupied, a screening station will be located in the Passavant Center. The station will be open from 7:30am – 9:30am (Monday through Friday). All employees, students, and visitors are required to be screened immediately upon arriving to campus and before entering other facilities.
The screening station will be staffed by College personnel. Employees, visitors and students will answer screening questions related to potential contact to and symptoms of COVID-19 and allow the staff member to record their temperature. The staff member will be using a no-touch infrared thermometer to take temperatures. Employees, students and guests with a temperature below 100 degrees and experiencing no symptoms of COVID-19 will be approved to be on-campus for the day.
As the campus repopulates at higher density levels, screening station personnel will issue a color-coded wristband to signify approval to access facilities for the day. Staff and faculty should check to see if students and visitors have a wristband before allowing entry into an office, classroom, dining spaces or other facilities.
Additional screening stations will open to accommodate for higher volumes of students, employees and visitors coming to campus. The College will continue communicate the locations of the screening stations.
What if the screening station(s) is closed?
Whenever possible, employees should report to work and schedule appointments/visits while the screening station(s) are open. However, in the event an employee, student, or visitor comes to campus when the screening station(s) is closed, Public Safety should be contacted at 724-589-2222 to screen the individual(s). Wait for further instruction from Public Safety. Do not enter any buildings until cleared to do so.
What if someone records a temperature of 100 degrees or more?
If an employee, student, or visitor records a temperature of 100 degrees or higher or is experiencing other symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu, they will be instructed to:
The employee, student, or visitor will not be permitted to return to regular campus activity until providing medical clearance from their physician and receiving approval from Human Resources (in the case of employees), or health services (in the case of students and visitors).
Recording and Monitoring Workforce Attendance
Supervisors should report to Human Resources any instances of an employee missing work due to health reasons. Human Resources will monitor attendance rates to identify trends that could be associated to a potential COVID-19 infection or outbreak.
It is the responsibility of the employee to stay at home when they have a temperature and/or other COVID-19 or flu symptoms. The employee is also expected to contact their supervisor and report symptoms and absenteeism.
If a student or employee is found to have tested positive for COVID-19 or been in contact with someone that has recently tested positive or is believed to be infected with COVID-19, certain actions will be triggered. The following is a description of isolation, quarantine and contact tracing plans.
If a student or employee is found to have tested positive for COVID-19 or been in contact with someone who has recently tested positive or is believed to be infected with COVID-19, certain actions will be triggered.
All students undergoing a quarantine or isolation requirement will be expected to complete a daily check-in with the Campus Health Center. Students can check-in virtually by visiting the link below and entering their information each day, or they can call the Campus Nurse Monday through Friday from 8am – 4pm at 724-589-2195. Students must cooperate with daily screening and check-ups. Failure to do so could result in disciplinary action, including suspension from campus housing.
In the case of an employee, the employee is expected to work with her or his primary care physician to obtain proper guidance and care when testing positive for COVID-19. Employees should report to their supervisor and Human Resources if they have tested positive, and provide care plans they will be implementing (e.g., isolating in a local hospital or orders to self-isolate, etc.). The employee should not report back to work until she or he completes the required quarantine or isolation period. Approval must be obtained by the Director of Human Resources prior to returning.
The College will report all confirmed cases of COVID-19 on our campus to the Mercer County Health Department and support their efforts to trace contacts and prevent the spread of the virus. The College will assemble and train a group of students and employees to assist with contact tracing efforts.
Students with a Permanent Address within a Reasonable Distance from Campus
Due to the limited number of on-campus quarantine and isolation spaces available, students with a permanent address within 300-miles from campus may be required to travel home to complete their quarantine or isolation period. The College will try accomodate as best as possible based on student preference, space availability, and other factors.
Students with a Permanent Address beyond 300-Miles from Campus
Typically, students with a permanent address beyond 300-miles from campus will have the option to complete their quarantine or isolation period in an on-campus facility. However, there may be situations where the College must send students home or off-campus for quarantine or isolation based on space availability or other factors.
Thiel College will initiate contact tracing when students or employees are identified as having potentially been exposed to or infected by COVID-19. Any student, employee, or community member who has been in close contact (i.e., being within 6 ft. of someone for more than 15 minutes in a 24 hour period) with an individual who is confirmed to have or believed to have COVID-19 will be contacted and advised. In some cases, this will result in mandatory quarantine. In cases where infection has not yet been confirmed, this may result in recommended quarantine and/or other precautions.
Due to privacy laws, Thiel College and/or the PA Department of Health will not divulge personal information about an individual who is infected by and/or potentially exposed to COVID-19. The College will alert individuals of potential exposure to the virus and advise accordingly.
Contact tracing is a vital step in the overall strategy for controlling COVID-19. Through free training provided by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, the College will assemble a group of trained students, faculty, and staff to serve as contact tracers. The training will cover the following topic areas:
The Mercer County Department of Health is taking the lead on contact tracing for confirmed cases in the county, but the College will have a trained team in place to assist in efforts connected to our campus. Contact tracing done by the College will focus primarily on suspected or pending cases prior to the Health Department’s efforts focused on confirmed cases.
All potential contacts of suspected, probable and confirmed cases should be systematically identified and quarantined based on the quarantine guidelines previously described in this document. Immediate evacuation of potentially infectious contacts to treatment centers or the nearest healthcare facility reduces high-risk exposure to the campus population.
For contact tracing strategies to be successful, we must rely on honesty and cooperation among campus community members. Effective contact tracing will help to ensure the referral of symptomatic contacts to isolation facilities.
There are several scenarios that could result in the College having to close facilities before or after in-person operations resume in August. A widespread resurgence of the pandemic could occur, and the state and federal government could order the closure of all higher education institutions in the state. A local spike in cases could occur and lead to the closure of higher education institutions in the county or region. Finally, the College could elect to move to remote instruction based on the spread of infection or volume of individuals in quarantine circumstances. The following sections outline academic and residential plans should a closure occur, and general operational guidelines while we remain open for face-to-face instruction.
Alternative Academic Calendar
The following revisions to the 2020-2021 Academic Calendar have been developed to encourage students to remain on-campus once the semester begins, increase the likelihood of continued face-to-face instruction, mitigate the impact of a resurgence of the virus, and maintain a consistent amount of instruction time as with previous academic years.
The College may decide to change the academic calendar for safety reasons based on conditions associated with COVID-19.
Instructional Format and Modalities
Consistent with our mission and strengths as a residential liberal arts college, Thiel is preparing to offer face-to-face instruction this year. Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, faculty are also preparing all courses for online delivery as well. Over the course of the summer, the College provided additional training related to online instruction. The following guidelines and plans will be used to support our plans and help maintain a safe and engaging academic experience.
These strategies allow for greater flexibility in instruction response in the event of a mid-to-late semester resurgence of the virus.
Student Health and Class Absenteeism
Given their regular interactions with students, faculty members can play an important role in controlling the spread of COVID-19. Reporting student attendance is an important and necessary strategy for monitoring potential infection and mitigating the spread of the virus. In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), faculty members will:
Physical Distancing, Furniture Layout and Cleaning of Classrooms, Labs, and Instructional Spaces
College classrooms are being assigned based on enrollment sizes to allow for physical distancing in each class. The classroom furniture is also being reconfigured to comply with physical distancing guidelines.
There will be additional time between courses to allow for safer entering and existing based on physical distancing, and for the cleaning of surface areas between use of each classroom.
Each classroom will have a quick-dry disinfectant spray to be used on all surface areas between use, no-touch trash receptacles, and hand sanitizer. Students will be asked to spray their desks, chairs, and/or workstations prior to use, and use hand sanitizer after using the disinfectant spray bottle. Faculty will also use the disinfectant spray for podiums and other workstations, and to bring their own dry-erase marker, chalk, etc. as needed. The following will also be enforced in the classroom:
As an institution committed to the residential experience for our students, Thiel’s goal is to provide students the opportunity to return to and enjoy campus housing. Since the coronavirus typically spreads so easily through respiratory droplets, creating and maintaining a safe and healthy living environment for so many students presents some challenges. As a result, the entire campus community will need to work together to help in our efforts. Likewise, the College is implementing numerous strategies that will help reduce risks. The following outlines important changes related to the residential experience for the 2020-2021 Academic Year.
Currently the College is projecting to be at approximately 70% of full capacity in our housing, which will help with efforts to allow for physical distancing and the ability to provide a separate facility for quarantine and/or isolation housing.
Guidelines for Move-In and Move-Out Processes
Move-in and move-out processes will be very different from previous years to increase safety and reduce risk. The following guidelines will inform our new approach:
Student Safety Plans
All residential students will be required to provide a “Safety Plan” to Residence Life prior to arrival on campus. The safety plan will help students prepare for the possibility that they will need to quarantine, isolate, or quickly leave campus due to the necessity to close housing facilities. Elements of the student’s Safety Plan must include answers to the following questions:
Supplemental Student Handbook Policies and Housing Contracts
Students returning to campus must take the necessary steps as determined by Thiel College and state and local government and health officials to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This guidance will be provided to students and families prior to their arrival on campus. Students will be required to sign a Housing Contract Addendum and will be subject to a supplemental Student Handbook Policies outlining safety standards necessary to help reduce infection and spread of COVID-19. Supplemental awareness materials will be provided to students identified as high-risk, and high-risk students are encouraged to commute from home if possible (residency requirement will be waived for high-risk students).
Only residential students who have successfully completed a pre-screening will be permitted to move into residential halls. Pre-screening will include a review of current health history, verification that all required immunizations are on file, COVID-19 screening form, confirmation of emergency contact information, and the submission of a Safety Plan as previously described. Regular housing application cancellation and refund policies may be modified to provide for increased flexibility.
Operational Guidelines for Campus Housing
The following guidelines will be in effect for the 2020-2021 Academic Year to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19:
Thiel College will regularly provide information, guidance and adequate signage to reinforce proper care and good hygiene practices.
In accordance with CDC, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Mercer County Health Department recommendations, all individuals, employees and visitors should:
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
PPE recommendations and requirements will change throughout the duration of this pandemic, and Thiel College will update community members on requirements for PPE as things progress. The following is an overview of PPE required for various populations based on current policies and guidance.
Contractors, Vendors and Service Providers:
Campus Health & Counseling Center
The Thiel College Health & Wellness Center will establish new protocols for in-person visits. Students seeking health services will be seen by appointment after the completion of a pre-screening/triage completed over the phone. Students seeking counseling services will be seen by appointment as well. Pre-screening/triage is not currently required for counseling services. Telemedicine and tele-mental health services will also continue when necessary. Changes to the Center’s physical space and adjustments to the workflow in the Center will be introduced to comply with best practices for physical distancing, use of PPE, and touchless transactions. Disinfectant spray will also be used to clean the space between visits.
High Risk Populations
Thiel College will utilize guidance from the CDC to inform policies, procedures, and safety precautions for individuals considered to be at higher risk for severe illness or COVID-19 related complications. Employees, students, and visitors should communicate personal health concerns and/or if they are knowingly in a higher risk category.
Employees and students considered to be in high risk categories will be provided the option and encouraged to work and/or attend classes remotely whenever possible.
More information about high risk categories can be found on the CDC’s website.
Thiel College’s dining services partner, AVI Food Systems, Inc., have established new safety protocols to guide the safe reopening of campus dining. Although the dining experience will change based on necessary safety measures to help limit infections and the spread of COVID-19, AVI’s commitment to high quality food, service, and the student experience will remain strong.
Focus on Safety and Sanitation
Based on guidance from the CDC, PA DOH, and NCAA, and in collaboration with other member institutions of the Presidents Athletic Conference (PAC), the College has developed a plan to resume intercollegiate athletics. The plan involves a phased approach, which involves COVID-19 education for athletes and coaches, pre-participation screening procedures, daily screening protocols, illness protocols and safety and prevention measures.
The athletic plan also involves changes to competition and practice schedules, increased sanitation measures, facility and travel guidelines, and league only competition (consistent with all members of the PAC). Likewise, the plan is fluid and will change with guidance from the NCAA, PAC, CDC, and PA DOH.
Student Activities & Events
The College will follow current guidance and recommendations from the government and health officials in placing limitations on the size of events and activities. Physical distancing strategies will be required as appropriate, and careful consideration will be given to cleaning and sanitation practices. Traditional large-scale events will be re-envisioned to accommodate pandemic related safety. Space will be re-organized to meet guidelines, and priority for space will be given first to events and activities planned to help fulfill the academic mission of the College. In-person guest speakers from outside the campus community will be limited, and departments will be encouraged to host virtual guest speakers. Finally, the College will work with students to increase the frequency and variety of student activities to create a fun and engaging atmosphere within the context of the new norm.
Student Clubs & Organization Events
Student clubs and organizations will be required to obtain approval from the Student Life Office to host in-person events and activities. Student life will ensure the events are planned in compliance with current occupancy guidelines and other safety measures. Events will only be approved for members of the campus community, and enhanced cleaning protocols will also be required. Campus buildings and spaces will be secured when not in use to prevent unauthorized use of the space. The Student Activities Office will provide training to support student clubs and organizations with their event planning for the coming year. Student Activities will also work with student organizations on the use of virtual platforms for events.
Intramural programming will focus on individual and non-contact events that allow for physical distancing. Acceptable programs include things like bowling, basketball shooting contests, 1-on-1 cornhole tournaments, badminton, etc.
Performing arts organizations such as band, choir and theater will resume in the fall under new safety guidelines consistent with this plan and specific recommendations related to each program. Directors and/or advisors for each program will schedule rehearsals and performances based on safety guidelines, travel restrictions, and reduced capacities for facilities. Some classes that are traditionally credit-bearing may be changed due to limitations related to COVID-19.
During the 2020-2021 Academic Year, International trips and non-essential domestic travel will not be allowed. This guideline could change if a vaccine is identified and widely available during that time. The College is also encouraging and requesting that students and employees limit personal travel and take essential safety precautions when travel is necessary.
Local Campus Shuttle Services
Local shuttle services will continue for students with capacity reductions to allow for physical distancing within the vehicle. Increased cleaning of the vehicles will occur. All riders are expected to wear a mask or face covering while in the vehicle.
Break Shuttle Services
In partnership with a third-party travel provider, the College will continue to offer airport and bus station shuttle service at the start and conclusion of each semester. Details about the shuttle service will be posted online, including the rates for the service and dates it is available. Students will be required to wear a mask or face covering while using the shuttle service.
If You Must Travel
The CDC provides the following recommendations if you must travel.
If you travelled internationally in the last 14 days:
Cleaning & Sanitation
The following are additional protocols Thiel College will be implementing in addition to pre-existing practices.
Traditional Residence Halls
Large Gathering Areas
Service for Areas with Suspected COVID-19
Thiel’s Office of Communication and Marketing (OCM) has established a robust communication plan to keep constituents well informed. The plan involves targeted messaging through email and social media, the use of our Tomcat alert system to send text, regular newsletters, voicemail and messaging, and a coronavirus updates page housed on the Thiel College website. An abundance of signage will also be strategically placed throughout campus to remind students, employees and guests of our four mitigation strategies (i.e., screening procedures, physical distancing, face coverings, and good hygiene and sanitation practices) and other important health and safety information.
OCM has also developed a style guide for employees to use for campus signage.
Community Care & Enforcement
The College has developed this plan in the interest of the health and safety of our campus and surrounding communities, our mission, and the frontline workers risking their own lives to care for individuals infected with the coronavirus. We recognize aspects of this plan come with inconveniences, challenges, and limitations to our previous operations and experiences. We also recognize that it is a privilege to attend and/or work at Thiel, and the entire community must protect that privilege, care for each other, and join the world in a collective effort to overcome COVID-19.
Therefore, we are all responsible for upholding and enforcing the policies, practices and safety measures set forth in this plan. It is also important that we, as a learning community, uphold and enforce these things in a respectable and empathetic manner. Our aim is to avoid the feeling of a “police state,” and foster a sense of responsibility for those that share the privilege of attending or working for the institution that has been successful for more than 150 years.
The College will do its part in regularly communicating expectations and guidance, and its members should do their part by supporting and enforcing those expectations. We ask that all community members who observe non-compliance, respectfully confront it by reminding the person(s) of the expectations and asking them to follow policies for the sake of the community and our privilege to operate in community. Should those efforts be unsuccessful and/or you are not comfortable confronting non-compliance yourself, the following options and expectations are in place to support you.
Students: Students observing non-compliance should inform an instructor, coach, residence life staff member, or administrator depending on the context of the non-compliance. Students can also contact Public Safety at 724-589-2222 if other faculty and staff are not available and/or if it is an emergency.
Faculty: Faculty observing non-compliance of recommended guidelines or College policy should report observations to their department chair and/or the office of academic affairs. Faculty can also contact Public Safety at 724-589-2222 if it is an emergency. Below are suggested steps to follow if a student attends class without having been screened, and/or refuses to follow policy in the classroom.
Staff: Staff observing non-compliance of recommended guidelines or College policy should report observations to their immediate supervisor and/or cabinet supervisor. Staff can also contact Public Safety at 724-589-2222 if it is an emergency.
Anonymous Reporting: Any student, faculty, or staff member can report non-compliance anonymously through our Campus Conduct Hotline at 866-943-5787 (For more information about the hotline, click here).
Suggested steps to take if a student, employee or visitor attempts to attend class, enter a facility or office, and/or access services without having been screened and/or wearing a face covering (with exception to those exempted from wearing a face covering as indicated by having two screening bracelets and an exemption card).
If individuals refuse to follow policy, will not leave a space when asked, are making a scene, or refusing to comply with your request, please contact Public Safety at 724-589-2222 for assistance.
Employees are also encouraged to contact HR or a supervisor if they observe regular violations of health safety policies from other employees. Employee violations or disregard for Thiel College Health and Safety policies could result in personnel actions ranging from verbal and written warning to termination as outlined under the Personal Conduct and Discipline Processes in the Employee Handbook and in the Faculty Handbook.
Students who violate safety policies and procedures may be subject to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, verbal and written warnings, suspension from campus housing, or disciplinary suspension from the College. Student violations will be handled through the student discipline process as outlined in the Thiel College Student Handbook.
Face Coverings Policy
Face Coverings Policy: Face masks, shields, or related coverings must be worn in all campus facilities and where physical distancing is not possible (including outdoors). This applies to all students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Face coverings must be worn over the mouth and nose.
Face Coverings Accommodation Process for Students
Students should complete the following steps to apply for an accommodation or exemption related to the face coverings policy:
All students will be required to be tested from home within 5-days prior to arriving to campus for the Spring semester. Proof of a negative test result will be mandatory prior to arrival to campus. If a student does not provide proof of a negative test (specimen taken within 5-days of arriving to campus) they will either be sent home until a negative test result is obtained or required to quarantine on campus. The decision of whether or not to send a student home will be at the discretion of the College.
Upon arriving to campus, all residential students will also be required to be tested by the College. On-going surveillance and symptomatic testing of students will also be required during the spring semester. Students will be asked to submit insurance information when receiving a test, and our partners will bill their insurance carrier.
In the case that a student does not have access to testing at home, they should contact Health Services (724-589-2195) at least ten days prior to their arrival date to discuss an alternative plan and/or for help locating a testing facility.
Exemptions to Testing Requirements: Students can apply for an exemption from the testing requirement based on the following three criteria.
Students wishing to receive exempt status should complete the COVID-19 Testing Exemption Form and submit it to Health Services via email or fax at least ten days prior to their scheduled arrival time (email@example.com or FAX#: 724-589-2875). Students receiving exempt status will be notified by Health Services prior to their arrival date.
All students who have not been approved for exempt status must participate in testing if instructed by Health Services. Students refusing to participate will be required to leave campus. If a student is suspended from campus due to non-compliance with the testing or other health and safety requirements, the College will not issue any refunds for room, board, tuition, or fees.
Student-athletes and students involved in other high contact or higher risk activities will also be tested more regularly based on NCAA and other guidance and requirements. Coaches and program directors will provide participants more details related to specific testing requirements for their sport or program.
Campus Visitor Policy
Thiel College has updated its Campus Visitor Policy. Please download and read the new visitor policy below.
CARES Act Information