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Molloy College prepares for fall 2020

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Molloy College is gearing up to welcome students back to its Rockville Centre campus this fall — sanitizing buildings and implementing new procedures to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

Beginning in September, the college will offer a mix of virtual and in-person classes, and resident students will return to dorms with social distancing measures in place.

Jim Lentini, the new president of Molloy College, said he’s optimistic about the coming year despite the challenges that lie ahead.

“I think we’re attacking this in a way that balances the two things that are a priority for me,” he said, “which are making sure you can [provide education] safely and that it can be high quality.”

On July 7, the college was already beginning preparations for what will likely be a much different school year.

Inside Fitzgerald Hall, one of the college’s three residence halls, cleaning company workers thoroughly sanitized each mattress in the dorm rooms. While in the past there were sometimes three students living in a room, there will only be single and double rooms in the fall.

Coupled roommates will be considered “family units” and not be required to social distance around each other. Around all other students, however, Molloy will enforce wearing of face masks and six-foot distancing.

All resident students will need to test negative for coronavirus before returning to campus, Lentini said. There will also be daily health checks for all students, which include getting a temperature reading before entering any building. A touchless, facial recognition kiosk will take each person’s temperature and store the information before they enter.

Inside Kellenberg Hall, an academic building, Jack Ryan, a student ambassador and resident assistant, helped tape floors to indicate where desks will be placed — each one six feet apart.

“If classes have high enrollment, they won't have us in the classroom,” Ryan explained. “And hopefully I’ll have that trust with the students and professors that they are taking the right precautions, wearing masks, washing their hands and just making the right decisions.”

Courses with small class sizes will take place in-person, with some online instruction. Many classes will be “hybrid,” meaning they are partially virtual and partially in-person. Madison Theater will be used for some in-person classes to increase space for social distancing, and many of the larger lecture classes will be fully online.

Also, all classes will be ready to switch to remote learning in case state guidelines suddenly change during the semester. “It’s not like what happened in the spring when everyone across the country had to turn on a dime and teach a face-to-face class remotely,” Lentini said. “This is planned out, so I think it will be a good experience for students.”

Some classes are really meant to be held in-person, such as nursing or music, Lentini noted, and those are where the challenges lie. He said Molloy’s administrators have been working closely with professors to set up plans for instruction.

Lentini noted that while campus life will look different, he still hopes to give students meaningful experiences. Outdoor residence life events will be planned with social distancing, for example.

“Molloy is really ready for this,” he said. “We hope that students will enjoy their experience coming back. College is really about that in-person experience, so we’re hoping to strike the right balance.”

Molloy’s enrollment for fall 2020-21 is about 2 to 3 percent below last year’s, Lentini said, which he attributed to students “feeling out” the situation regarding coronavirus. He hopes to get those numbers back to where they were. Molloy has also frozen tuition, meaning there is no tuition increase, for the 2020-21 school year.