Today Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh held a town hall via Zoom to give a statement and address questions regarding the reopening of the university.

He addressed many aspects of GU reopening including residence halls, food and fitness guidelines, commencement, study abroad, course offerings and more.

Coming back to campus is going to come with extensive requirements and guidelines that students, staff and faculty will have to follow.

Both GU and Whitworth University are working together to create their plans and those plans have the support of the Spokane Regional Health District so long as the plans put forward by the universities are followed.

McCulloh said if a student decides to return to campus, they will have to read an “extensive” guide and sign a statement of commitment and acknowledge the risk of returning to campus.

Prior to arrival, the university will be asking students to quarantine before returning to school. They should do so by self-isolating for seven days before leaving their homes McCulloh said. 

Testing and contact tracing will be happening on campus. However, the actions the university is considering most important are those to do with mitigating the virus from spreading around the community.

“It is possible that if things get worse, we may get told that we cannot return to face to face instruction,” McCulloh said.

However, he is hopeful that students will be able to return to classes in some capacity this semester.

Beginning this weekend students will be able to log onto Zagweb and find out if their courses will be taught in person, hybrid or fully online.

These decisions will be made by the professors for how they want to deliver their classes.

Students will also have the option to take all courses online if they do not feel safe returning to campus.

Though many faculty members have said they do not feel comfortable meeting for class in person they are willing to meet with their students individually for office hours or advisor meetings.

He emphasized that classes like labs, clinicals, studio classes and more will be taught in person or at least in a hybrid model. This is because these courses cannot be taught effectively without at least partially being in person.

Housing will also be provided to all students who wish to have it.

“If students were planning on living on campus and if they wish to live on campus, our plan is to host the students who plan on living in the residence halls,” McCulloh said. 

There will be adjustments to room assignments if a student decides to not return to campus or if there are any other changes to decrease population density in the halls. These adjustments will not happen without reaching out to the students first.

“If you got a housing assignment and you want to be on campus our obligation is to support that,” McCulloh said.

Dining facilities on campus will remain open but at limited capacity. McCulloh said there will be an emphasis on grab-and-go meals and new rooms will be converted into dining rooms, like the ballrooms. Also, at the beginning of the semester students can eat outdoors as well.

As of right now the Rudolph Fitness Center will not be operational for now.

Foley Library is considered a public library and in Spokane all public libraries have to remain closed right now. However, McCulloh said if social distancing and individual safety can be ensured he is hopeful the library can reopen.

If it does reopen it will be restricted to just students, staff and faculty.

Social experiences will be restricted this semester. There will be limitations on activities that are “very much a part of the common experience at Gonzaga University,” McCulloh said.

There has been a lot of talk about how commencement would happen after being moved from May to August. McCulloh said that commencement will not be happening in person this year.

A virtual commencement will happen because the Spokane Arena cannot have that many people in their facility. More information about commencement will be released soon.

As for fall sports McCulloh was hopeful that they would be able to happen in some capacity this year.

“It is conceivable that fall sports will not be moved into the spring,” McCulloh said. 

However, it is still possible fall sports will move to spring. There has been a lot of discussion within the West Coast Conference about fall sports and they are working with the NCAA to find answers.

Study abroad was a group majorly effected. Gonzaga in Florence, along with other study abroad programs, were canceled due to travel restrictions on international travel. McCulloh said they are committed to getting students back on campus in Florence for the spring semester.

McCulloh said that the hope is that by mid-October the university will know what can and cannot be done for the spring semester and are hopeful that programming will be able to move at least somewhat back to normal.

Riley Utley is the editor-in-chief. Follow her on Twitter: @rileyutley.

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