New details shared about MC’s 2020 fall semester

New details shared about MC’s 2020 fall semester

July 17, 2020 

New details about Maryville College’s plans for the fall semester are giving the campus community a glimpse of how the College will offer in-person classroom and residential experiences while also trying to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

In a memo to students (which was later shared with faculty and staff) on July 16, Dr. Melanie Tucker, vice president and dean of students, shared information related to behavior expectations, classroom experiences and spaces, residence hall move-in, health services and support for students who face COVID-19-related challenges.

“While I have heard from several of you how eager you are to get back to campus, I’ve also heard from some of you that you are anxious – anxious about how to best address your own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of those around you,” she wrote. “We shared earlier this summer, and wish to reiterate, the health and safety of our campus community has been and will remain at the forefront of ongoing planning efforts.”

Classes at the College are scheduled to begin Aug. 19. The Labor Day holiday and Fall Break have been removed from the academic calendar in an effort to discourage long-distance travel to and from campus. Classes end at Thanksgiving, and finals will be given online the following week.

Masks required

Among the behavioral expectations announced by the College are mask wearing, maintaining physical distancing, completing daily temperature checks, practicing good hygiene, and staying home if/when symptoms are felt.

Members of the campus community also are being asked to report to the College’s COVID coordinators if they have been exposed to the virus, are being tested for COVID-19 or have been given medical directives to enter into quarantine or isolation. Tucker and Keni Lanagan, the College’s human resources director, are coordinators for the student body and employees, respectively.

Tucker said all students will receive a COVID-19 Student Conduct Addendum, a component of the overall Student Code of Conduct, closer to the start of the semester and will be asked to sign a student pledge indicating their understanding and willingness to abide by the College’s enhanced health and safety protocols.

“It will take all of us remaining committed to health and safety, and upholding our individual, personal responsibility to return and remain in-person,” she shared in the memo.

Move-in begins Aug. 6

Students will begin returning to campus on Aug. 6, with residential students moving into halls in shifts that are being organized by the College’s Residence Life staff. The schedule for move-in is designed to limit the number of people in a building at any time and allow for thorough cleaning between shifts.

Last month, the College announced that students who live in halls with community-style bathrooms would be housed one per room in an effort to reduce the population in halls, thereby reducing the chances of person-to-person transmission and contamination on hard surfaces like faucets, doorknobs and stairwell railings. Single-occupancy also allows students to quarantine in their own rooms, should the situation warrant it.

Returning students who had previously signed up to live with roommates in suites or apartments with self-contained kitchens and bathrooms are being permitted to live in those rooms after they sign a liability waiver.

The College also previously announced that it had taken some rooms offline to accommodate students who would require isolation as a result of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

Classroom experiences will vary

In her memo to students, Tucker explained that employees had spent several weeks assessing the capacity of academic and support service spaces “to ensure that in-person learning opportunities are provided in a physical-distanced manner informed by guidance from the CDC and other entities.”

That guidance calls for 6 feet between chairs or desks, which means that some classes with several students enrolled will not be able to meet as they normally would. Students are likely to have a variety of class experiences during the fall semester. Small classes will be able to gather in large classrooms or auditoriums; large classes may have to move partially or completely online. 

“Whether classes are in-person, online or hybrid in approach will depend on the academic focus of the course, classroom capacity and the number of students enrolled,” she said, adding that many faculty members have spent the summer break expanding their knowledge of online delivery content “best practices.” Additionally, a grant recently awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities is helping the College build its online educational resources.

In addition to classroom reconfigurations, Tucker explained that many spaces across campus where community members gather informally have been temporarily blocked-off, closed, or had seating reduced.

“Knowing that community is a large part of our campus experience, we will make greater use of the outdoors for academic, student success efforts and student programming,” she said. “And, we are finalizing plans to reimagine the use of some larger indoor spaces – particularly with our commuter students in mind.”

Health services expanded

Starting Aug. 1, Maryville College students will have access to expanded health services – including mental health – through a telehealth partnership called “Scots Health.” Free of charge for all students, Scots Health will provide access to care – all day, every day, regardless of being on- or off-campus. The College’s on-campus counseling center will remain open, as well.

“You will be able to talk to a licensed provider from your smartphone or any web-enabled device,” Tucker explained in the memo. “Licensed providers are available, for example, to diagnose non-emergent medical conditions, prescribe medications, make referrals and offer mental health support via phone or secure video visits.

“In addition to expanded hours of services and increased access to a broader range of providers, this telehealth program is designed to protect the safety of the entire campus by eliminating the need to physically visit an on-campus office,” she added.

Protocols established

Quarantine and isolation processes have been established, as have protocols for outreach to those the College is aware of having potential exposure risk. A COVID-19 management group has been formed to support students who face COVID-19-related challenges, Tucker wrote in her memo, adding that administrators continue to monitor state and federal guidance and work in consultation with local and state experts.

More communication is expected to be shared with students and families as decisions related to the fall reopening are made.

Athletic conference announces plans

On July 14, officials with the USA South Athletic Conference announced some plans for the fall season, implementation of which are “rooted in assuring the health and safety of [the conference’s] student-athletes while still supplying as many opportunities as possible to participate in a positive collegiate athletic experience,” according to the conference’s statement.       

Further guidance is expected for resocialization, screening/testing, spectators and more, but the current plans include:

  • Fall team sport conference schedules adjusted to divisional-only play with the possible implementation of neutral-site venues, thus eliminating the need for overnight travel unless an exemption is granted by the conference.

  • The 2020 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships will split into Eastern Division and Western Division events.

  • Football will split into two divisions and play a home/home in-division format, culminating with a championship contest featuring the two divisional winners.

  • Currently, institutions are free to schedule non-conference contests as they wish.

Decisions made in the coming weeks regarding athletics in 2020-2021 will be shared at and

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”