First Fall Return Town Hall: What We Learned

By Gauri Mangala, Managing Editor

Gettysburg College conducted a zoom webinar town hall on Wednesday afternoon to give students and parents a better understanding of what was to be expected upon arrival to the college in the upcoming weeks ahead.

Moderated by Jim Duffy, Associate Dean of College Life, the town hall consisted of Julie Ramsey, Vice President of College Life and Dean of Students, Jeff Foster, Associate Vice President of College Life, Jim Biesecker, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services, Judy Williams, Director of Health Services, and Richard Keeling, Chairman and Senior Executive of Keeling & Associates. The panelists gave overviews of the decisions of the offices under their purview and proceeded to answer audience questions for the remainder of the meeting.

COVID-19 Testing and the Health Center

All students will be tested upon arrival and then will be tested randomly throughout the semester as a part of surveillance testing. Williams estimated that about 100 students will be tested every week. The test will be administered orally, and Williams described to be similar to strep tests.

More staff members have been hired to the Health Center and the hours of operation have increased, including hours on Saturdays. According to Williams, the hours will be split to tend to ‘well’ students in the mornings and ‘ill’ students in the afternoons. 

The center is equipped with two negative airflow rooms and plenty of PPE to support students that test positive for the coronavirus.

Move-In and Orientation

Foster urged that move in for students should be done quickly and with as few items as possible. Students are to bring one person into their residency with them to limit the traffic in buildings. Students should also prepare a ‘go bag’ with school and living essentials in case of a rapid need to relocate.

Roommates will be moving in on similar time frames, with staggered move-ins to decrease room and hallway traffic.

During students’ 2-day quarantine period after testing, the college will be setting up virtual programming for opportunities to engage with the campus community, especially for first-year students.

Dining and Other College Buildings

All dining facilities have reduced seating with 6-foot distances as well as the utilization of plexiglass barriers. All foods are designed to be taken out and reheated to encourage grab-and-go dining and seating has been placed in Plank Gym, the CUB Ballroom, Memorial Field, and the patio outside of the Janet Morgan Riggs Student Center. Additional dining pick up locations are also being added to de-densify traffic.

The Post Office has implemented touchless kiosks and asks that students wait until they have received email confirmation before going to pick up mail.

The gymnasium will be open, but only for students.

Student Expectations

Ramsey stressed that students found to be going against the community agreements can be sent home or suspended. The college will not be supporting any group meeting larger than 25 people and any event with alcohol.


Daily cleanings of residence halls and all college buildings will be implemented, as well as disinfecting high touch points like door handles and laundry facilities.

All academic buildings and common spaces will have room occupancy signs as well as reduced furniture. Classrooms will have plexiglass barriers for professors and disinfectant wipes for students and faculty to use.

Another town hall will be held on Wednesday, August 5 at 1:30 PM EDT. 

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Author: Gauri Mangala

Gauri Mangala '21 currently serves as the managing editor for the Gettysburgian. Gauri is originally from Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Aside from her work with the Gettysburgian, Gauri is the treasurer for the Owl and Nightingale Players. She is a double major in Theatre Arts and Anthropology.

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1 Comment

  1. How many students are committed to return? Will those not returning be accommodated for online credits during semester? How many will simply drop out for semester?

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