RINDGE — Franklin Pierce University announced Thursday morning that it is planning for a full return to in-person classes and other events in the fall.
In a news release, President Kim Mooney said the university’s plans include continuing athletic competition and resuming other operations, such as “robust visitation opportunities.”
“Our students want to be here, and proved that by their adaptability in abiding by strict health and safety guidelines over the last year that made our in-person living and learning possible through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mooney said in the release. “Every one of our students, faculty and staff made adjustments to ensure our continued operations and continuity of learning, and it’s exciting to be looking ahead to the fall with in-person events and activities returning, safely and responsibly.”
Franklin Pierce students have received in-person instruction this year, with remote options available as needed, according to spokeswoman Marissa Colcord. Instructors have been able to provide elements of some classes online in a hybrid model.
Colcord said events on the university’s Rindge campus are operating under COVID-19 safety guidelines and are held virtually when possible. The school is now offering campus tours and other visitation events in small groups, per health and safety guidelines, but hopes to host larger events and increase their frequency in the fall, she said.
Franklin Pierce has about 1,200 students and 235 faculty and staff members at its Rindge campus. Students are scheduled to arrive for the fall semester Aug. 15–17, with classes set to begin the next day.
The university announced Thursday that it will keep some scheduling modifications from the current academic year in 2021–22.
Those include concluding in-person instruction for the fall semester at the Rindge campus before Thanksgiving break and conducting final exams for that term remotely. The exam period is currently scheduled for Nov. 29 to Dec. 3.
The university will also continue its “robust COVID-19 testing program as long as needed” next year, the school announced in the news release.
Franklin Pierce planned to test 400 to 500 randomly selected students and staff each week this semester — about double the weekly testing conducted in the fall. Since athletes and athletic staff are tested multiple times each week, per NCAA guidelines, Colcord said the school has been testing nearly 700 people per week this semester.
However, the university tested all students at the Rindge campus for COVID-19 in mid-February after issuing a temporary shelter-in-place order in response to a spike in infections. That outbreak peaked at 48 active cases last month, and the order was lifted after cases declined. Franklin Pierce reported seven active cases as of Tuesday.
The university plans to hold an in-person commencement ceremony May 15, but graduates will not be able to have any guests on campus for the occasion.
In its news release Thursday, Franklin Pierce announced that it will also continue in-person instruction in the fall at the school’s academic centers in Manchester, Lebanon and Goodyear, Ariz., which host its health-science graduate programs. Students at those locations have been receiving in-person instruction, with safety protocols like masks and social distancing, since last summer, according to Colcord.
A Keene State College spokeswoman told The Sentinel last week that it is also moving ahead with plans for a full return to in-person classes and events this fall. The University of New Hampshire announced last week that its campuses, too, will be fully open in the fall, as did another school in the state system, Plymouth State University.