Spina answers student’s questions about plans for this fall

President Spina sends an email to students addressing plans for the fall semester moving forward, photo courtesy of the University of Dayton.

Kaitlin Lewis    
News Editor

UD President, Eric Spina, sent an email to the student body Wednesday afternoon explaining how the university is working to safely reopen campus this fall.

To help streamline communication with students and their families, UD has created a new webpage to answer questions and provide any updated information regarding the fall semester.

The UD Path Forward Task Force, which is made up of several working groups, is developing options for the university to reopen in-person learning. 

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Both the webpage and President Spina’s email assures students that returning to campus this fall is at the university’s highest priority.

“We do anticipate unless something dramatic happens, that we will have a good set of plans that will enable us to open up and students to come back,” Spina said.

Student Government Association (SGA) President Natalie Coppolino and Vice President Anne Philbin interviewed President Spina on May 11 through a video conference to answer student’s questions about the fall semester.

The following is a synopsis of what was shared:

How are international students being cared for while they are stuck on campus?

  • According to Spina, around 500 international students are still living on or near campus while it is unsafe to return home. UD along with the Center for International Programs is assisting students with meals as well as helping with transportation needs around Dayton. Many international students rely on on-campus employment to pay for necessities like rent, and according to Spina, many landlords around UD have been helpful for students who are stressed financially.

While students return to collect their belongings, can those who live more than 400 miles away stay in university housing for one night during the long trip?

  • Unfortunately, part of the agreement between UD and the county health commissioner was that students returning to collect their belongings would not be permitted to stay on-campus housing. The University’s Marriott Hotel is open for overnight stays. Spina also said that the CARES Emergency Assistance Grant is available for families who worry about paying for an overnight stay. Students can apply for support here.

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What would campus life, including residence halls and the student neighborhood, look like this fall?

  • In short, nothing is for certain yet. Spina anticipates that a proposed set of guidelines for what the fall could look like will be released to the public by early June. More than likely, some online learning will be used in addition to in-person lessons. Spina said some changes that could be made include changing the class schedule to “thin out” classroom sizes and decrease the number of students walking in the hallways or through campus at the same time.

Will the RecPlex be opened for students in the fall?

  • Currently, Gov. Mike DeWine has not released plans to reopen gyms or other recreational centers in Ohio. More than likely, whatever the state decides gyms have to do, the RecPlex will follow as well.

Will clubs and activities be allowed to continue in the fall?

  • Spina said that he recognizes and values what clubs and extracurricular activities offer for students. Like anything else on campus, there will be guidelines set for how clubs could continue to meet and interact. More than likely, technology such as video conferences will still be used in addition to any in-person meetings.

What about students who are required to get an internship to graduate?

  • UD is making sure they are flexible about requirements that some students are not able to meet now, such as those required to have an internship to graduate. Students who are struggling to find internships should be in contact with their advisors so that UD can help place students somewhere. If it is not possible for a student to get an internship, Spina said it would be “inappropriate” to continue to hold that as a core graduation requirement.

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Coppolino and Philbin also asked Spina about what consequences for students who break social distancing on campus could look like. Spina said that he hopes the university would not need to set a policy for students who break guidelines set up in the fall. 

From the administration’s perspective, the number one guideline in their decision making is watching out for the safety of students, faculty and staff.

“The key thing we’re going to have to do is make a mutual commitment to each other to do what we need to do to be safe,” Spina said.

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