LOUDONVILLE -- Siena College plans to start its fall term with in-person instruction beginning Aug. 24, over two weeks earlier than its original start date of Sept. 8.
The fall term is slated to conclude Nov. 25, the college announced in a media release Monday.
"This course of action provides students the best chance at completing a full academic term of in-person instruction, and better mitigates the threat of the virus spreading on campus," Siena President-elect Chris Gibson said in the announcement.
After fall term finished, students would not be expected to return to campus until January. As college develop plans for the forthcoming school year, many have considered schedule changes to keep students at home from Thanksgiving through the new year, partly in an effort to mitigate the complications flu season is expected to have on the pandemic.
Siena's announcement marks the first from local colleges that it plans to move forward with on-campus instruction in the fall. The announcement said the plans would be "contingent on local and state health guidelines and the track of the pandemic."
The college is working to develop protocols for social distancing, mask wearing, intense cleaning, contact tracing and more. The college also forsees the some remote learning will be necessary, and has plans to outfit all classrooms with the technical capabilities to record and broadcast classroom instruction.
Siena's Board of Trustees unanimously approved the plan earlier this month, according to the announcement, and the college's faculty have also offered their "overwhelming" support.
"While it is impossible to know for certain what impact the virus may have months from now, health professionals warn there is an elevated risk of a COVID-19 resurgence during the winter months," Gibson said. "Be beginning classes 15 days earlier than originally scheduled, overall instruction can remain at a normal pace, but with final exams concluding before Thanksgiving recess."