College announces plans for spring 2021 move in, changes

Spring 2021 in-person classes are scheduled to begin on Feb. 23 following move-in, which is scheduled to occur Feb. 18-19. 

In an email to the campus community, on Jan. 27, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students April Thompson announced plans for spring 2021 semester move-in in an email. 

“We want to make the move-in process go as smoothly as possible for our students and families,” Thompson said. “We appreciate your cooperation and support as we do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of the Allegheny community as module (two) begins.”

The email contained information regarding the logistics for this semester’s move-in, including signing up for a time slot to receive your COVID-19 test on campus, as well as announcing at-home testing prior to departure.

On Feb. 15, students will receive an at-home PCR test and will need to locate a UPS drop-off center to send the test back to the college. Thompson explained that students will most likely have their results in a timely manner. 

“We anticipate that if students follow the instructions and return the at-home test on (Feb. 15), results will be returned to students by (Feb. 17),” Thompson wrote in the email. “While we understand that this creates issues and anxieties for families to not be able to solidify plans, we believe this is the best way to ensure that students are safe to return to campus. We ask for your patience as we all wait for test results to be returned.”

Testing information was sent out in an email to the campus community on Feb. 2 by Inspire Diagnostics. The email contained information regarding how to order a COVID-19 at-home testing kit and announced that the deadline to order the free test kit was Monday, Feb. 8.

“Allegheny College requires a negative COVID-19 PCR test administered by Inspire Diagnostics for all students prior to their return to campus for the spring semester,” Inspire Diagnostics wrote in the email.  “Allegheny has partnered with Inspire to provide all students access to a convenient and easy-to-use at-home COVID test kit that can be delivered to your home to be self-administered and mailed back to Inspire for processing.” 

According to the email, students will need to provide their email or mobile number, demographic information and health insurance before ordering a testing kit. Students will be notified of their test result as soon as it becomes available. The testing kits are being provided at no cost to the students; those who are insured will be billed with zero copays or deductible required, and students without insurance — or if their insurance claim is denied for any reason — will have their expenses covered by the college. 

For international students or anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days, the college has arranged modified plans to accommodate their circumstances. These individuals must contact the Allegheny College Health Agency at [email protected] before ordering a test kit.

ACHA announced further information for international students and anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 in an update to the campus community on Jan. 12. 

“Students who will be returning to campus from outside the United States are not eligible to use the Inspire Diagnostics at-home PCR testing kit,” ACHA announced. “Therefore, those students should independently take a PCR COVID-19 test in their home country within the five-day window prior to returning to campus.”

Students must email the test results to ACHA prior to returning to campus.

For students that have tested positive within the last 90 days, ACHA announced an exemption from the testing requirement until the 90-day window has passed.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instructs persons who have tested positive and completed isolation for COVID-19 not to be retested for 90 days,” ACHA wrote. “If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and already completed a 10-day isolation, you are welcome back to campus.”

Students must email ACHA with verification of the positive test and completion of isolation prior to moving in.

Thompson announced that some changes will be made to move-in compared to last semester. Students should also be aware of the potential for inclement weather when traveling to campus.

“This will be the first time that students have removed all of their belongings for winter break and had to start all over again in February,” Thompson said. “We are trying to help students anticipate (the cold weather) and there may be limited staff available to help with move-in. Given the (COVID-19) rates in the (Meadville) community and the cold weather, we are trying to — as much as we can — provide a safe move-in opportunity, which means that we may not have as many staff available.” 

ACHA will now allow up to two family members to assist their student(s) with moving in, the Dean of Students Office announced in an email on Feb. 4. The previous policy limited students to one guest during move in. 

Students with belongings in local storage facilities will need to collect their belongings before moving into their residence hall and getting their test done. Students should anticipate being quarantined upon arrival, Thompson added. 

Students returning to campus from states with high levels of COVID-19 will not be required to quarantine separately as the at-home PCR test fulfills Pennsylvania’s policies. However, all students are required to participate in the campus-wide quarantine until March 4.

 Move-in times were based upon the ability to test the student population for COVID-19.  Students returning to campus will be tested in the Wise Center on their move-in day, Thompson said. The following week, students will be tested once more in the Wise Center. 

“We recognize that there is a lot of information to keep track of as you prepare for move-in; for the health and safety of everyone in the Allegheny community, we ask that you carefully follow the processes that have been established,” the Dean of Student Office wrote. 

Meadville Medical Center is distributing the Pfizer vaccine in accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health vaccine distribution plan.  ACHA announced that the Allegheny College Vaccine Task Force has been persistently advocating for the campus community to get access to vaccines.

“Students can expect exactly what they came to know about Allegheny — a very welcoming community that does everything we can to make it feel like home,” Thompson said.