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Lebanon Valley President Lewis E. Thayne announced Wednesday, May 6, that the college plans to have students return to campus for an in-person start to the fall 2020 semester.

Thayne’s announcement letter detailed LVC’s preparation for such a return. “The College’s senior leadership and Critical Incident & Emergency Management Team are developing several scenarios for opening up LVC gradually over the summer,” said Thayne in the letter. “These plans will be based on guidance the Pennsylvania Department of Health expects to release May 15, as well as recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.”

Thayne said that the college was evaluating potential partners “to advise and assist with any needed mitigation strategies.” These could include reduced density in classrooms and labs and fewer students in residence halls (with a related temporary increase in commuters).

LVC’s last day of classes on campus was Friday, March 13. A closure that was originally scheduled to go until April 9 was extended for the rest of the semester on March 21.

Read More: LVC goes online only for rest of semester

Since that time, the college has instituted numerous changes in its academic and counseling efforts to better accommodate the realities of remote learning. “Everyone on campus is all-hands-in when it comes to supporting students through this transition,” Beth Julian, Assistant Dean of Student Success and Retention and an Adjunct Instructor of English, told LebTown last month.

Read More: How is LVC adapting to COVID-19 changes?

This also happens to be Thayne’s last year as LVC president, having announced his retirement plans in May 2019. A physicist and current provost of St. Xavier University in Chicago, James M. MacLaren, PhD. was announced as the college’s 19th president in March just before the pandemic began.

Read More: Lebanon Valley College names physicist James MacLaren as its 19th president

Thayne said that the college’s senior leadership and Critical Incident & Emergency Management Team had been working closely with MacLaren to develop a transition plan. “(MacLaren’s) experience as part of the team that led Tulane University Katrina-recovery efforts will be invaluable to this process,” said Thayne.

The letter noted that many unknowns remain, such as questions about athletics, student worker opportunities for fall, move-in and orientation, and dining services – not to mention, uncertainty about what the status and spread of the virus will be a few months from now.

Thayne said that even though the plan is still fluid, learning outcomes will not change and students will be able to graduate on-time regardless of the specific scenario that ends up being implemented.

Read all of LebTown’s COVID-19 coverage here.

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