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Coronavirus Updates
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# of Potential Exposures: 1 | # of Confirmed Cases: 1 | # of Active Cases: 0

This information was last updated on September 21, 2020 at 2:35 PM. Data is monitored daily and updates are made to this webpage based on any circumstance changes.
* Potential exposures represent the known # of individuals who may have been exposed to an active case.
** Confirmed cases represent the total known # of confirmed cases while on-campus since August 17, 2020.
*** Active cases represent the known # of students or employees currently infected with COVID-19.

Health & Safety Plan

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.

COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan and Reference Guide

The following information is a general reference guide to the College’s COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan.

Monitoring Health Conditions

Monitoring Health Conditions to Detect Infection

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.

Monitoring and Detection Efforts

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.

Screening Station(s)

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:

  • Employees: Leave campus and follow-up with their health care provider and the Director of Human Resources (Jennifer Clark) at 724-589-2858 or jclark@thiel.edu.
  • Students: Go directly home or to their campus housing and contact health services at 724-589-2198 for phone screening or triage.
  • Visitors: Go directly home and follow-up with their health care provider and the individual they were scheduled to visit.

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.

Containment Plans

Containment Plans to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Once Detected

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.

Isolation and Quarantine

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.

  • Isolation – Isolation will be used to separate people 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 or in designated campus housing until it’s safe for them to be around others. When able, students will be expected to isolate at home. However, some designated on-campus isolation housing has been prepared in the case the student can’t travel home.
  • 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 or in designated quarantine housing, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department. Some designated on-campus quarantine housing has been prepared for student use. The College may ask students to quarantine from home depending on the availability of facilities.

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 track and report their symptoms daily. If they do not report symptoms, those days will not be counted towards their required quarantine or isolation time.

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 is medically cleared to return (i.e., a negative COVID-19 test result or doctor’s clearance). 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

Students with a permanent address within 300-miles from campus may be required to travel home and isolate or quarantine. A positive test for COVID-19 will require medical clearance to return (i.e., a negative COVID-19 test result or doctor’s clearance). If a student was identified as having contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19, the student will be sent home to quarantine for a period of at least 14 days and monitor symptoms. Students in quarantine can return to campus and resume normal activities after the 14-day period if they did not experience symptoms of COVID-19 during their quarantine period, and/or sooner than 14 days if they tested negative for COVID-19 and provide those results to Campus Health Center for approval to return.

Students with a Permanent Address beyond 300-Miles from Campus

Student with a permanent address beyond 300-miles from campus will be required to either travel home for care and isolation, receive treatment and isolation in a local healthcare facility, or in the case of contact and no symptoms, quarantine for at least a 14-day period in College housing or at home. The College has designated a facility for quarantine and isolation housing. The College will have protocols in place to provide daily remote monitoring from the Campus Nurse or Clinic, food delivery, transportation for healthcare visits, and other personal needs. Once testing becomes more readily available, the College may require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before the student returns to regular campus activity.

Contact Tracing & Notification

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) 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:

  • Basics of COVID-19
  • Basics of Contact Tracing for COVID-19
  • Steps to Investigate Cases and Trace their Contacts
  • Ethics of Contact Tracing and Technological Tools
  • Skills for Effective Communication

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.

Transition Plans

Transition Plans in the Event the College Must Close 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.

Academic Transition Plans & Guidelines for 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.

Fall Semester

  • Classes will begin on Monday, August 17 and conclude on Friday, November 20.
  • Final exams will begin on Saturday, November 21 and conclude on Tuesday, November 24.
  • Classes will meet on Labor Day, and there will be no fall break period.

Spring Semester

  • Classes will begin on Monday, January 18 and conclude on Friday, April 23.
  • Final exams will begin on Monday, April 26 and conclude on Thursday, April 29.
  • There will be no spring break, and Easter will be celebrated on campus.

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.

  • Additional online course offerings and some courses offered in hybrid format
  • Limited capacities in classrooms to allow for physical distancing
  • Ability to offer all classes online and in-person should a student be unable to attend class due to illness, and/or in the case the College must transition to remote instruction
  • Selective course offerings
  • Additional time allotted between classes to allow for the cleaning of work spaces and surfaces
  • Moodle will be used to house course contents for all courses, and synchronous platforms including, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and others will be used to deliver course content

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:

  • Observe student behavior and refer students who appear to be symptomatic to the campus health center (724-589-2198).
  • Monitor student attendance in face-to-face and online classes, and report absenteeism through the campus ATTEND system.
  • Allow additional time for students to complete assignments and reschedule test and quizzes if they are absent due to health reasons.

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:

  • Students must be wearing the color-coded bracelet signifying that they were screened for the day prior to entering the classroom
  • Masks will be required inside the classroom and lab (unless the student is approved not to wear a mask for medical reasons)
  • Eating in the classrooms/labs will not be permitted
  • Drinks will be permitted
  • Trash cans will be emptied twice a day

Housing Transition Plans & Operating Guidelines

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.

Residential Capacity

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:

  • Students will be asked to reduce contact with others outside of their family and follow CDC guidelines, such as: wearing a mask in public buildings, reducing non-essential travel, increasing handwashing, and reducing public activities (e.g., going to the movies, unnecessary shopping trips, etc.) two weeks prior to move-in.
  • The College will schedule advance move-in times for students to move most items into campus housing prior to the student moving onto campus for the year.
  • The College will increase cleaning during move-in periods.
  • Student will only be allowed 1-2 helpers during their scheduled move-in time.
  • Students and helpers will be required to visit a screening station prior to entering other facilities.
  • Students will be asked to bring fewer items to campus.
  • International students coming to campus from abroad will be required to quarantine for 14 days before attending classes or visiting College offices/facilities. International students will be placed in designated quarantine facilities upon arrival. Students will be informed of this requirement in advance so they can plan on arriving within 15-20 days of class start date
  • Students planning to arrive by public transportation will be given additional guidance about arrival to campus to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19.

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:

  • Where the student will go if they must leave campus suddenly?
  • What transportation options exist for the student?
  • Do they have a registered vehicle on campus? Are they dependent on public transportation?
  • How quickly can a student get to their designated location given their transportation options?
  • Are there plans in place at your designated location should you need to quarantine or isolate?
  • Is emergency contact information provided?
  • Do they have access to dependable internet should they have to relocate?

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:

  • Face coverings in common area spaces, including restrooms, laundry rooms, and hallways
  • Hand Sanitizer in all residence hall and apartment building entrances. Theme house and townhouse will not be provided sanitizer since all have handwashing options inside the entrances.
  • A single approved configuration for double occupancy rooms (where assigned) to maximize physical distancing. (e.g., No bunking permitted.)
  • Closure of common area kitchens and capacity limits for other common spaces
  • Room checks by Residence Life staff members will be increased as will rounds from Public Safety Officers.
  • Spatial indicators and signage in restrooms and laundry rooms indicating occupancy limits, reminders to wash hands, etc.
  • Students will not be permitted to have outside visitors in their rooms, apartments or townhouses, and there will be limitations on occupancy in each facility.
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols of shared areas and bathroom spaces
  • Alterations in Residence Life programming to comply with physical distancing guidelines and established policies
  • Students will be asked to avoid unnecessary trips off-campus, including visits home.

Personal Hygiene

Personal Hygiene and PPE Guidelines

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:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after public place exposure, after touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and before preparing or eating food.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol when soap and water are not available
  • Use available hand sanitizers in all classrooms, labs, and public areas
  • Follow proper sneeze or cough etiquette by using a tissue or the inside of your elbow
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid close contact and contact with those who are sick
  • Be vigilant about practicing personal hygiene (don’t refill cups, don’t share utensils, tools/equipment, etc.)
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch areas routinely in accordance with guidelines issued by the CDC

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.

Employees:

  • Employees are required to wear a face covering while on-campus
  • Face coverings can be removed when an employee is working alone in her or his office, working outside in areas where physical distancing can be and is maintained, in meetings where physical distancing can be accomplished and once everyone is seated, and in dining areas once the employee is sitting and eating.
  • Face coverings can be disposable or reusable cloth.
  • Each employee will receive one cloth mask provided by the College and a limited number of disposable masks will be available upon request.
  • The Campus Store will also have face coverings available for purchase.
  • The College will maintain adequate stock of disposable masks and gloves, and disposable masks will be available at screening stations.
  • Facilities and Residence Life employees should wear gloves while working in high touch areas and when entering students’ rooms/residence halls
  • Additional PPE required for employees interacting with a student who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, and students residing in isolation and quarantine housing (i.e., N95 facemask, gloves, gown, and goggles or safety glasses).

Students:

  • The standard rule is that students should wear a face covering anytime they are outside of their personal room or when they cannot maintain a physical distance of 6 feet in their room (with exception to circumstances described in the Health & Safety Amendments included with the new Thiel College Student Handbook policies).
  • Students will be provided two reusable and washable cloth masks and are expected to also bring their own supply of masks or face coverings.
  • The standard rule for commuter students is that they should wear a face covering any time they or on-campus (with exception to circumstances described in the Health & Safety Amendments included with the new Thiel College Student Handbook policies).

Visitors:

  • Visitors must wear a face covering while on campus.
  • Disposable masks will be available at screening stations.

Contractors, Vendors and Service Providers:

  • Contractors, vendors and partners must wear a face covering when working on-campus.
  • Contractors, vendors and partners are responsible for providing their own face coverings and/or other PPE.

Campus Health & Counseling Center

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

High Risk Populations (Shielding)

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.

Campus Dining

Campus Dining Guidelines

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

  • All AVI employees will participate in daily health screenings upon arrival to work.
  • All AVI team members will be wearing masks.
  • All AVI team members will be required to participate in COVID-19 trainings.
  • Enhanced cleaning practices, products and protocols will be in place.

Operational Guidelines

  • Self-service (salad bars, breakfast nooks, hot service lines) options will be suspended and replaced with staff serving food and beverages.
  • Disposable utensils, plates, and containers will be used as appropriate.
  • Condiments will be pre-packaged.
  • Cashier, service, and seating areas will be adjusted to support physical distancing guidelines.
  • AVI will work with the College to implement cohort dining times.
  • Catering Services will be evaluated to ensure physical distancing guidelines are met.
  • Guest-facing technology alternatives will be developed to reduce touching.
  • To-go options will be available for every meal, and daily carryout specials will be available for lunch.
  • Seating will be reconfigured to accommodate a limited number of in-person diners.
  • Appropriate signage and communication will be displayed and offered to communicate expectations, offerings, and safety protocols.
  • Programming will be enhanced to encourage safe, fun, and educational experiences for students.

Athletics

Athletics & Recreation Guidelines

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

Student Activities & Campus Events Guidelines

Campus 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

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

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.

Travel Guidelines

Travel Guidelines

College Trips

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.

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Avoid traveling if you are sick.

If you travelled internationally in the last 14 days:

  • Stay home, monitor your health, and practice social distancing for 14 days after you return from travel. Social distancing means staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.
  • Learn more about what to do if you are sick after travel.

Cleaning & Sanitation

Cleaning & Sanitation Guidelines

The following are additional protocols Thiel College will be implementing in addition to pre-existing practices.

Traditional Residence Halls

  • Traditional residence hall common spaces and restrooms will be cleaned twice daily and disinfected on weekends.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in the entrance of all traditional residence halls.
  • Disinfectant spray will be used regularly throughout the halls.
  • High-touch surfaces will be cleaned more frequently.

Classroom Buildings

  • Hand sanitizer will be available inside building entrances and all classrooms (with exception to labs with handwashing stations where disinfectant soap will be provided).
  • Disinfectant spray will be available in each classroom, students and instructors will be asked to spray working surfaces prior to class (e.g., desks, chairs, tables).
  • Restrooms will be cleaned twice daily.
  • High-touch surfaces in common areas will be cleaned more frequently.

Office Spaces

  • Office spaces will be cleaned once a week.
  • All offices will be provided disinfectant spray and hand sanitizer for the department.
  • Staff and faculty are expected to self-clean high touch areas as needed.
  • Departments are encouraged to develop plans to minimize the use of high touch equipment, and/or clean between uses.

Public Restrooms

  • All public restrooms will be cleaned twice daily.
  • Paper towels and sanitizers will be available in all restrooms.
  • Garbage cans will be located beside the doors.

Large Gathering Areas

  • Sanitizer spray will be used to clean surfaces and seating between use.
  • Furniture will be organized to promote physical distancing.

Service for Areas with Suspected COVID-19

  • Thiel College personnel will use sanitizer spray machine to disinfect spaces where there was known to be COVID-19 exposure.
  • Cleaning personnel will be required to wear addition PPE, and space will be taken offline until otherwise approved College administration.

Campus Communications

Campus Communications & Signage Guidelines

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

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).

  • Step one: Check for color coded bracelet and face covering before allowing entry into the classroom or facility and/or providing service.
  • Step two: Politely inform the individual of College policy related to screening and/or mask wearing.
  • Step three: Ask the individual to visit a screening station to be screened and/or obtain and wear a face covering. If the individual does not have a face covering, she or he can get a disposable mask at one of the screening stations.
  • Step four: Inform the individual that you are not permitted to allow them into the facility or classroom and/or provide service unless they have been screened and are following the face covering policy.

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 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 are expected to be worn in the classroom and residential facilities (with exception to times when the student is in her or his own room).
  • Face coverings can be removed in dining facilities once the individual is seated and eating their food.
  • If a student has a medical condition preventing them from wearing a face covering, the student can apply for a medical exemption or accommodation. The medical exemption/accommodation process for students is explained in the next section of this document.
  • If an employee has a medical condition preventing them from wearing a face covering, the employees should contact Jennifer Clark, Director of Human Resources, for information about the process for obtaining an exemption or accommodation.
  • Athletes may also be allowed to remove face coverings during competition. The athletic department will provide student-athletes specific instructions about face covering practices related to sports.

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:

  1. Self-Disclosure: It is the student’s responsibility to initiate contact with the Disability Resource Center and to request a mask accommodation/exemption by calling x2063 or emailing Liza Schaef, DRC Coordinator, at lschaef@thiel.edu.
  2. Meeting with the DRC Coordinator: The student must make an appointment with the DRC Coordinator. Together, through an “interactive process”, the student and DRC Coordinator will discuss the student’s disability and the following:
    1. how the student’s disability creates a limitation with regard to mask wearing,
    2. how the requested accommodation will effectively address the limitation,
    3. whether another form of accommodation could effectively address the issue, (e.g., wearing a scarf or face shield or taking classes remotely)
    4. how a proposed accommodation will allow the student to participate in classes/campus life
  3. Documentation: The student must present comprehensive documentation of a disability from a physician. Documentation must provide a diagnosis and explanation for how the condition may manifest itself in an academic setting and must include a statement about why a mask cannot be worn. After receiving the additional information and medical documentation from the student, the DRC will evaluate the request and either approve an alternative mask or other accommodation or deny the request. For example, if the student provides a legitimate medical reason for not being able to wear a face mask or covering, reasonable accommodations could include the following:
    1. Providing/Wearing an alternative face mask or covering that is allowed by the student’s medical condition
    2. Allowing the student to take classes remotely/online
    3. Use of a physical barrier
  4. Notify Faculty/Staff: The DRC Coordinator will notify faculty and staff of the mask accommodation/exemption. Student will agree to sign a release allowing DRC Coordinator to communicate with designated faculty and staff about the mask accommodation/exemption. If approved for the face mask accommodation, a student will be issued a “Medical Mask Exemption Card”. The student must carry this card with them on campus at all times, so if approached by campus faculty or staff for not wearing a face mask, the student can show the card indicating that they have a mask exemption/accommodation. The student must show their card at on campus screening stations; students with the mask exemption/accommodation will be given a second wristband. This will help the rest of the campus community know that the student legitimately does is not required to wear a face-mask.
  5. Follow Through: Student is responsible for following all other COVID-19 requirements as outlined by Thiel College, including adhering to temperature check ins, following social distancing guidelines, and other procedures to keep the campus community safe.

COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 Testing

Thiel College is not requiring all employees and students to be tested upon arrival to campus. Instead, the College is requiring testing for individuals who are symptomatic. The College will work with the PA DOH and/or health care providers to make determinations on the need for testing.

Currently the College does not have the ability to offer testing on-site. As a result, students and employees will be required to obtain testing at an off-campus location when applicable. However, the College is exploring options for on-site testing through the on-campus Health Services Office. If on-site testing does become available, more details will be communicated to campus community.

Updates: May-July 2020

Summer 2020 campus updates and visitor policies, as well as information about repopulating campus for the fall 2020 semester.

Thursday, July 16 - Move-in Information and What to Expect

*Thursday, July 16:

Thiel College is having students move belongings into their Fall 2020 housing between August 2 and August 8. All students will receive an e-mail from "Sign-Up Genius," the software we are using to schedule the move-ins.

The time slots will consist of three two-hour periods each day. They will be from 9:00-11:00 a.m., 12:00-2:00 p.m. and 3:00-5:00 p.m. Our goal is to reduce the number of people moving items onto campus at one time so everyone can maintain physical distancing. When you arrive on campus that day, you will be able to pick up your key in the main entrance of the HMSC.

First-Year Students Only: After you move-in your belongings, we ask that you arrive on campus again on August 15 and partake in Welcome Weekend activities (more information about Welcome Weekend will be sent in a later communication). We ask at this time that you move the majority of your items in during the scheduled August 2-8 move-in time. Then when you arrive to campus for Welcome Weekend you will only need to bring the remaining items that you were unable to move-in early.

Upperclass Students: After you move-in your belongings, we ask that you return to campus on August 16. Please move the majority of your items in during your scheduled move-in time. Therefore when you arrive on August 16, you will only need to bring the remaining items that you were unable to move-in early.

Below is a document to inform you of expectations related to our Campus Health & Safety Plan. Please read it over carefully as there are some steps that you will need to take prior to arriving to campus. The health & safety guidelines have been established to help protect our privilege of being able to live and learn together in community this year. We believe by taking these steps, Thiel College will be able to “Make it to May!” with in-person instruction, housing, and other activities.

We are aware that we are going to have to make some exceptions for students coming from further distances. Please contact Director of Residence Life Bob Phillips '08 at rphillips@thiel.edu or 724-589-2011, as soon as possible if you need to make other arrangements, and we will work with you on individual plans.

Monday, July 13 - Out-Of-State Travelers Self-Quarantine Information

*Monday, July 13:

Thiel College, in compliance with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's recent guidance, recommends 14 days of self-quarantine for individuals entering the state from one of several other states where COVID-19 cases are currently rising. Click the link below to see the complete list of states, and the College's plans for students traveling from those states.

Thursday, July 2 - Athletics Campus Update

*Thursday, July 2:

Thiel College Director of Athletics Amy Schafer held a campus update meeting to discuss the policy changes in response to COVID-19. Watch the complete session below.

Monday, June 22 - Admissions Campus Visitor Policy

*Monday, June 22:

The Thiel College Office of Admission has an updated campus visitation policy effective June 22, 2020.

Thursday, June 11 - Financial Aid/Student Accounts Campus Update

*Thursday, June 11:

Thiel College Executive Director of Financial Aid Cindy Farrell ’77 and Student Accounts Supervisor Stacey Yake held a virtual meeting and campus update session to discuss changes to financial aid and student accounts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the full session below.

Thursday, June 4 - Student Life Campus Update

*Thursday, June 4:

Thiel College Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students Michael McKinney ’02 held a virtual meeting and campus update session to discuss changes to student life and housing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the full session below.

Friday, May 29 - Academic Affairs Campus Update

*Friday, May 29:

Thiel College Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Liz Frombgen, Ph.D., held a virtual meeting and campus update session to discuss changes to the academic calendar and academic policies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the full session below.

Friday, May 22 - Campus Visitor Policy

*Friday, May 22:

Thiel College has updated its Campus Visitor Policy. Please download and read the new visitor policy below.

Thursday, May 14 - CARES Act FAQ

*Thursday, May 14:

Learn more about the CARES Act and important FAQ for Thiel College Students: