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Lenoir-Rhyne to reopen campus for fall semester

Lenoir-Rhyne to reopen campus for fall semester

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Lenoir-Rhyne University will resume classes on campus beginning Aug. 24.

With the return of students, the Hickory-based university is making plans to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to a press release from the university, fall break will be eliminated and classes will end no later than Nov. 20. Exams will be scheduled the week after Thanksgiving and will be administered remotely or online.

“We have made these changes after much consideration about how to preserve the LR educational experience and also ensure the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students on all three campuses,” Fred Whitt, president of Lenoir-Rhyne, said. “We will continue to monitor the pandemic situation and work with local, state and regional officials to make the best decisions we can.”

On July 6, the university will begin return-to-work plans for staff, according to the university website.

All faculty, staff, students and visitors on campus are now required to wear a mask, according to the release. Hand sanitizer stations have also been added throughout the campus.

Kelli Barnette, associated vice president for enrollment management, said Lenoir-Rhyne Promise, a program created to provide North Carolina residents 50 percent off tuition, will still be available this coming semester as planned.

Barnette said it was predicted the university would see a significant increase in enrollment when the Promise program was rolled out last year. Despite the pandemic, that seems to still be the case.

She said the university has seen more than 1,000 more enrollment applications for the 2020 fall semester than last year. “In light of COVID-19, we are being cautious,” Barnette said.

Barnette said there was a concern students would cancel their deposits due to the pandemic. That has not been the case so far.

She said enrollment is now being handled online more often than in the past. “I think this pandemic has forced us to think outside the box,” she said.

Barnette said the faculty is using video-calling tools to introduce themselves to new students and allow those students to ask questions before they start their college careers.

Class schedules also will be adjusted to help reduce the number of students and faculty in buildings. The changes include staggering the time between classes, allowing more time for cleaning and keeping most classes to one hour of in-person instruction at a time, according to the release.

A task force has been organized to help determine these guidelines and a calendar. This group is made up of university faculty and staff.

Since each building on the campus is unique, different social distancing guidelines will be put in place for each building. This includes the number of visitors allowed in each building, according to the website.

Barnette said the university will continue to look for more ways to help their students feel comfortable on campus while helping new students have a smooth transition to college life.

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