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Return to the Hill (RTTH)

The Return to the Hill (RTTH) Task Force, created by President Roger Casey and led by Executive Vice President/Provost Julia Jasken, is a leadership committee that meets regularly to develop recommendations for the President and the Board of Trustees as the College prepares for the Fall 2020 semester during the COVID-19 outbreak. The RTTH was created as an outgrowth of the Coronavirus Task Force whose work was focused, since its creation in March 2020, on crisis-level planning due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). As the 2019–2020 academic year drew to a close in May 2020 and the College’s focus shifted to planning for the future and the re-opening of campus, the RTTH was formed. 

Aerial view of McDaniel College campus athletic fields.

Stay Up-to-Date

We look forward to welcoming you back to campus this fall even as we recognize that the coming year will look different than previous years. We continue to be guided by our First Principles and realize that our community’s ability to successfully operate will require each of us to commit to the long-term health of our community that will necessitate short-term sacrifices of each of us.

Students walking on campus

Key Decisions

Our decisions continue to be informed by the recommendations of the Return to the Hill committees, as well as guidance from state and county health officials. 

The decisions below have been made for Fall 2020 and will continue to be updated throughout the summer months.

Read the complete announcement about the Fall 2020 semester from the Return to the Hill Committee (RTTH) here.

For questions, new students should contact their admissions counselor. Returning students should contact the office of Residence Life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Undergraduate Academics

How are decisions regarding the fall semester being made?

The Return to the Hill (RTTH) Task Force, created by President Roger Casey and led by Executive Vice President/Provost Julia Jasken, is meeting regularly to develop recommendations in preparation for the Fall 2020 semester. The RTTH reviewed various options for the fall and McDaniel will offer three types of classes for the fall semester: traditional in-person classes, hybrid classes, and online classes, with a majority of classes being taught as hybrid. Key decisions impacting the Fall 2020 semester were announced on June 17, 2020. The Academic Life Office has compiled Academic FAQs for Returning Undergraduate Students that can be viewed here

How has the academic calendar changed?

The first way we are protecting the health of members of our community is to adjust the dates of our undergraduate academic calendar. This will remove the impact of holiday travel and avoid the start of peak flu season for the vast majority of students.

Therefore, most students will move on to campus between August 14-August 19 with classes for the fall semester beginning on August 20, 2020.

  • Classes will be held on Labor Day.
  • There will be no fall break in October.
  • Classes will end on November 20, 2020 and the semester will conclude on November 24 following the exam period. No undergraduate instruction or exams will occur after Thanksgiving.
  • The calendars for Graduate and Professional Studies will remain unchanged since all Graduate course instruction will be online for the fall. Fall Session I dates are August 24– October 18 and Fall Session II dates are October 19–December 13.

A full undergraduate academic calendar is available here. Though the total number of instructional days for undergraduate students has been reduced, the number of class hours will be the same to ensure the quality of the academic experience.

How is the semester model changing?

Embedded within our new academic calendar will be two 7-week academic sessions: Session A and Session B. Instead of taking all of your classes across the normal 15-week period, you will be taking half of your courses during Session A and half of your courses during Session B. Over the course of the semester, you will still be completing the same number of courses. For most students, this means you will be taking two courses in Session A and two courses in Session B. This change will help students manage multiple modes of instruction in a smaller number of classes while significantly decreasing the number of students you will interact with in classes over the course of the week.

Unfortunately, moving to a model that better protects your health as a student is likely to cause some disruption to your schedule as it may mean that classes in which you were currently enrolled may no longer work with your schedule. We apologize for this inconvenience. If you need assistance with modifying your schedule, your academic advisor, a faculty member in your major, or a member of the Academic Life team will be happy to work with you to revise your schedule. We expect all schedules will be completed no later than July 3rd and you will be notified as soon as your new schedule is available online.

Will fall classes be taught on campus or online?

There are two factors that will significantly affect the instructional model for the fall. The first is the need to provide safe, physical distancing protocols in the classroom, and the second is the reality that some of our students and faculty are unable to be physically present in the classroom due to age or other risk factors that make them more vulnerable to health complications connected to COVID-19. Given these factors, McDaniel will offer three types of classes:

  • Traditional in-person classes: As many of these classes will be offered as possible, but one of McDaniel’s significant benefits under normal circumstances—small classrooms that only have a capacity for around 20 students—becomes a constraint in this environment where physical distancing is required, which requires reducing the capacity of those classrooms to about 50%. Space limitations due to physical distancing requirements mean the number of traditional in-person classes will be limited.
  • Hybrid classes: These classes are held partially in person and partially online. This enables professors to safely meet at least once a week with smaller groups of students from the same class in traditional sized classrooms. Most 1000-level classes will be held in this format. Our Information Technology Department is upgrading a number of our classrooms to support video conferencing to facilitate a high-quality hybrid learning experience.
  • Online classes: These classes are primarily online, but faculty may still hold optional in-person activities with students throughout the session to deepen and enrich the educational experience. The majority of classes at the 2000 level and above will be in this format.

All faculty who have not already been trained in online pedagogy are working hard this summer to redesign their classes to be highly engaging regardless of the modality.

We recognize that the modality in which your classes are offered may impact your decision to live on campus for the fall semester, and you will be notified of the modality on your revised schedule when it becomes available. We are committed to working with you on a decision that best meets your needs. Our hope is to return to our traditional mode of in-person instruction for the spring term, but, of course, we must adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Carroll County Health Department as well as the Governor's orders for the state of Maryland. Those guidelines largely dictate what we are able to do in this regard.

What will happen if I need to quarantine but my class has in-person meetings?

While each faculty member may have a different way to handle this, given the specific assignments and expectations for their courses, all faculty will work with students during quarantine so that students can continue learning and doing assignments virtually.  

What will happen if there is a spike of COVID-19 cases in Maryland? Will all classes shift online again?

We are working hard to ensure that, even if there are cases of COVID-19 on campus, we are able to safely handle them through a combined process of quarantine and testing without closing the campus. Unfortunately, it is possible that instruction may need to move online if the local health department makes this determination due to a significant outbreak. Should that need arise, the transition should be fairly seamless given the flexible way courses have been redesigned.

I am a returning undergraduate student. Do I need to re-register?

You will not necessarily need to re-register although it will be important that every student log into Student Planning so they can be aware of their new schedule. You will be notified when your new schedule has been built. If your schedule is unevenly distributed between Session A and Session B, or there is a time conflict within a Session, you may be moved to another section of the same class. If your schedule cannot be resolved in this way, you will be contacted directly to make schedule changes. Students may also make changes to their new schedules based on preference not related to uneven schedules or time conflicts.

When checking your new schedules, it will be important to notice the modality:

  • McDaniel Westminster Campus: This means your class will be held in-person. You must be physically present on campus to enroll in this class.
  • McDaniel Campus/Online: This means your class will be hybrid, which means you will meet physically on campus at least once a week. You can still complete the class without being physically present on campus if you are not a residential student, but the experience may not be as robust.
  • Online: This means the class could be entirely online or may occasionally meet in person, but you are not expected to be on campus.

If you plan to be a residential student or commuter for the fall term, you may enroll in a class offered in any of the three modalities.

If, however, you would prefer not to be a residential student, and are not a commuter, you are encouraged to enroll in courses designated Online. You may also enroll in courses designated McDaniel Campus/Online (hybrid). In both of these modalities, faculty will provide an alternative to you for the in-person elements. You may not, however, enroll in a class designated as McDaniel Westminster Campus as those classes will be held in-person.

If you have additional questions, view the Academic FAQs for Returning Undergraduate Students here or contact the Academic Life Office at 410-857-2251 or  


Is the Office of Admissions open to visitors?

Effective June 15, the Office of Admissions is open for prospective student visitors. All visitors must have an appointment and follow established health and safety protocols. Learn more about visit options.

Athletics / Student Life

When will a decision be made about Fall sports?

The Centennial Conference is still finalizing plans for the fall season. We will announce any updates as soon as final decisions are made.

Regardless of competition, will athletic teams be able to practice in the fall?

Any decision regarding athletics will be made in conjunction with the Centennial Conference and the NCAA. McDaniel will also follow all state and local health guidelines.

Will athletic teams be able to hold team meetings and events?

Even as we await final decisions by the Centennial Conference related to conference competition, the Activity Hour will also provide all athletic teams opportunities for team activities, which may include team meetings, team social events, practices, and study halls. While all activities must follow the health and safety protocols in place, this will allow athletic teams to maintain what makes athletics at McDaniel so special—a team committed to athletic, personal and academic growth. The NCAA states that Division III athletics “place special importance on the impact of athletics on the participants” and it is through this lens that all teams are committed to continuing the development of student-athletes. 

Will student clubs and organizations be able to operate?

We understand the value of co-curricular involvement on campus through participation in clubs, organizations and athletics. The new academic schedule still includes a daily Activity Hour to give you time to engage in these pursuits. Though any form of community engagement will still need to abide by physical distancing and other health and safety guidelines, we plan for this vibrant aspect of campus life to continue.

Will student support services be available on campus?

All of our student supports will still be available, either through in-person meetings or through Zoom conference calls. Although the modality may be changing for some office engagement in the short term, you will still have the same friendly connection you have always had to staff to our wonderful staff in the Bursar Office, the Center for Experience and Opportunity, Financial Aid, Hoover Library, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Registrar, Student Accessibility & Support Services (SASS), Student Engagement, the Wellness Center and more.  

Campus Facilities

Will Hoover Library be open in the fall?

A reopening plan is currently being developed for Hoover Library, which will address social distancing and flow in the building.

Will Merritt Fitness Center be open in the fall?

The College is following all state and local guidelines in regards to the reopening of Merritt Fitness Center.

Will the Campus Store be open in the fall?

Currently, the Campus Store is temporarily closed. Visit the Campus Store website for purchases and/or updates:


How will dining options be changed to help with social distancing?

Campus dining will undergo changes with fewer students able to be in the dining facilities at one time due to physical distancing requirements. Additional take-out ordering options will be available, including the new Hilltop Pub in the Student Center, and a new app will allow students to reserve a time at their preferred dining location. We will also have additional options available to enjoy meals in outdoor settings.

Will Caseys’ Corner and/or other food service options be available in the fall?

Yes. McDaniel Culinary Services plans to have several to-go and grab-and-go options available throughout campus and is also looking into the potential for online ordering.

Events/Visitors on Campus

Will events take place on campus?

At this time, the College has made the decision to not allow on-campus events hosted by external groups through July 31, 2020. Events hosted by campus constituents may occur so long as they align with all campus health and safety protocols in place.

Will volunteers be allowed to work on campus?

Volunteer opportunities will resume on-campus once the Governor of Maryland has endorsed the Phase Three of the Road to Recovery Plan. Prior to the implementation of Phase Three, volunteers will be limited to remote opportunities only.

Will McDaniel Local still take place for first-year students?

Effective June 5 at 5:00 pm, Governor Larry Hogan announced that Maryland will begin to move into Stage Two of the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,’ with a safe and gradual reopening of workplaces and businesses. Stage Two will allow us to offer McDaniel Local in person. Virtual sessions will also be offered for students who may prefer an online experience. Register for McDaniel Local virtually or in-person here.

Financial Matters

Will there be any billing changes for the 2020–2021 Academic Year?

In light of the uncertainty COVID-19 has caused, McDaniel College understands that families may require additional payment flexibility for the 2020-2021 academic year.

To accommodate the needs of our students and families, McDaniel has made the following changes to our billing policies:

  • Effective July 1, 2020, the $75 enrollment fee for McDaniel’s 5-month payment plan will be waived for all families.
  • Final payment deadlines have been changed as follows:
    • For incoming students: from July 1 to August 1
    • For returning students: from July 15 to August 15
  • As long as payment plans are in good standing at the time of registration, no student participating in the payment plan will be prevented from registering for the spring semester due to an existing balance.
  • No late fees will be issued for the 2020-2021 academic year.
  • In partnership with the Bursar’s Office, the Financial Aid staff will continue to offer one-on-one opportunities for students and their families to meet with their Financial Aid Specialist.

I'm concerned about being able to pay my fall bill. Are there any options for me?

Yes. Please submit the McDaniel College: Additional Financial Support Application, which can be found online in the My.McDaniel portal under “Student Menu”, “Student – Financial Aid”, “Funding Request Forms".

Will there be any changes to tuition for the fall semester?

McDaniel College's tuition rates for the 2020-2021 academic year can be found here. Tuition charges have been set and will not change for the 2020–2021 academic year regardless of instructional modality (online, hybrid or face-to-face instruction). Courses will continue to be taught by McDaniel faculty and we remain committed to keeping the low faculty-student ratio that is a hallmark of a McDaniel education.

Will there be any changes to room and board charges?

Room and board charges for the 2020-2021 academic year have been set and will not be changed or reduced due to changes in the academic calendar. Because room prices are highly variable based on building and single/double occupancy, students may contact the Bursar's Office for exact room costs. To provide increased flexibility, all students on a McDaniel College meal plan will receive double the amount of McDaniel Bucks for the fall semester. 

If I move off-campus, will my financial aid be impacted or reduced?

Financial aid is based off the expected cost of attendance which, in the case of a student who plans to live on-campus, includes room and board costs. Students who change their mind and therefore change their status from "on-campus resident" to "commuter" will have their financial aid package recalculated to reflect the reductions in cost and, by extension, need. 

The way the packages are recalculated are as follows:

  • McDaniel institutional aid will be reduced by 20%. (Note: Legacy Scholarship recipients who move off campus will have their scholarship reduced by $5000.) 

Because room and board is equal to approximately 26% of total costs, the reduction in institutional financial aid by 20% when a student movesoff-campus reflects the reduction in cost while also providing a buffer for off-campus expenses that may be incurred.

What is the deferral policy for admitted students?

For students deposited for Fall 2020, our goal is to be as generous as possible with our deferral policy. This means that any student may request a deferral for up to one academic year, starting in either Spring 2021 or Fall 2021. Approved deferrals will allow students to “lock in” their financial aid package for their chosen semester and the $500 confirming deposit will be applied to their future balance. To discuss a deferral, deposited students may contact their admissions counselor. 

If I choose to take a leave of absence from McDaniel for the fall and/or spring semester, how would that affect my scholarships and financial aid?

For any questions about your financial package and to discuss your personal financial situation, contact the Financial Aid Office at (410) 857-2759 or your Financial Aid Specialist.

What other resources are available for students with financial challenges?

McDaniel's Financial Aid staff continues to offer one-on-one opportunities for students and their families to meet and discuss personal financial situations with their Financial Aid Specialist.

Who do I contact if I have questions about my bill or payment plan?

Contact the Bursar's Office at 410-857-2209.

Graduate & Professional Studies

Will GPS classes be online for the fall semester?

The decision was made to continue all graduate course instruction online for the fall, as many courses were already being delivered online or in a blended format. This allows us to eliminate any disruption to your studies due to COVID-19, particularly during a time when you may be dealing with other professional and life changes.

Will there be any changes to the dates of the fall sessions?

The dates for both Fall Session I and Fall Session II will remain the same. Fall Session I dates are August 24, 2020 – October 18, 2020 and Fall Session II dates are October 19, 2020 – December 13, 2020.

When is Fall registration available?

Fall registration opens July 1. If you need help with advising, please contact your program coordinator. If you are a new student looking to enroll at McDaniel for the Fall, visit our Graduate Admissions webpage to apply.


How is McDaniel preparing for COVID-19?

COVID-19 testing protocols will be central to our return to campus and we are working in collaboration with the Carroll County Health Department, who has already agreed to partner with the college should any student test positive for COVID-19.

The college has expanded our relationship with a local testing facility called LabCorp to offer testing on campus. In consultation with the college’s Director of Risk Management/Environmental Health & Safety, the college is prepared to enact testing, contact tracing, and isolation protocols in conjunction with the Carroll County Health Department.

Beds are being reserved for quarantining and isolating students in the event that becomes necessary.

Will masks be required on-campus?

Per Governor Hogan’s orders, all members of the McDaniel College community—faculty, staff, students, visitors—will be required to wear facial coverings when inside buildings and residential common areas. We are fortunate to have a beautiful open-air campus and tents have been acquired that will expand our ability to utilize our outdoor spaces. Masks will not be required in outdoor spaces as long as physical distancing is maintained.

What measures will be in place for employees to monitor for and prevent COVID-19?

Faculty, staff and student workers will be expected to conduct a symptom review each day before they arrive to campus or report to work. Upon arriving, they will be asked to document that this symptom review occurred on the Daily Symptom Check. If a faculty, staff member or student worker exhibits any COVID-19 symptoms per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, they should not report to work. Instead, they should inform their supervisor (staff or student worker) or Dean of the Faculty (faculty) that they are experiencing symptoms and then contact their health care provider for guidance.

Will there be any new cleaning protocols?

The Housekeeping staff will frequently and thoroughly clean all campus facilities, including common and high-touch areas, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

Students will be made aware of updated guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing classrooms, offices, and other campus facilities, as well as the coordination of traffic in and out of campus spaces. The college has already made a commitment to hire additional cleaning staff and cleaning and sanitation frequency will be increased. Updated protocols will be shared with our campus community over the coming weeks.

Will the Wellness Center still offer counseling and mental health services?

Our Wellness Center is developing a separate location that will serve students seeking out counseling and mental health services, preventing them from interacting with students who might be visiting the Wellness Center because they are sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. We will also be offering additional tele-health capability beyond our normal campus services.

Residence Halls

Will there be on-campus housing available?

The College is pleased to welcome students back to residential life on campus, though this too will look and feel different. Students are able to reside in double rooms, though the college will not be utilizing triples or quads for student housing. We hope to accommodate any student who would like to live on campus, although we recognize that students whose courses in both Session A and Session B of the fall semester are fully online may elect to defer residential living until the spring semester. When deciding whether you would still like to live on campus for the fall, please pay careful attention to the new policies that place significant restrictions on the residential experience. The draft of these policies is available here. We understand that these restrictions limit the freedoms students once enjoyed and we will be relaxing them as we are able per state and federal guidelines. At this time, however, it is critical to the health and safety that they are followed carefully.

Given these new factors, all students who have already indicated that they plan to live on campus in the fall will receive a short survey asking them to confirm their housing preference by July 10th.

Will students who already went through the room selection process and requested triples or quads be able to reside on campus?

The decision to not allow triples or quads was made after the room selection process. Although we hope to accommodate any student who would like to live on campus, we first need students to confirm their housing plans for the fall since there are now new factors that have been announced. All students who have indicated that they plan to live on campus in the fall will receive a short survey asking them their housing preference by July 10. Once Residence Life receives the survey responses, they will be able to get a better picture of who needs to be relocated and what housing is open.

How will housing policies be changed to protect the health and safety of students?

A draft of the Fall 2020 Housing Policy can be found here

Students are required to comply with health and safety laws, orders, ordinances, regulations and health and safety guidance adopted by the State of Maryland, local Health Department, and McDaniel College as it relates to the COVID-19 crisis. These guidelines will evolve as the public health crisis evolves and may include, but are not limited to, social distancing, limitations on group gatherings, COVID-19 diagnostic and surveillance testing, contact tracing, wearing a face covering, disinfection protocols, limitations on guests into residence halls, and quarantine/ isolation requirements. Adherence to health and safety requirements applies to all residents, staff and visitors and extends to all aspects of residential life, including bedrooms, bathrooms, lounges, outdoor spaces, and other common spaces. 

Has there been a decision about move-in for students?

Most students will move in August 14-19. More information will be communicated by Residence Life.

Student Employment/Work Study

Will students be able to work on campus in the fall?

Student workers will return to campus in a phased approach to be determined in coordination with the Return to the Hill (RTTH) Committee and the respective vice president. Additional information will be communicated to students and their supervisors closer to the start of the fall semester.


Are there any restrictions in place for College-affiliated travel?

All College-affiliated/funded travel remains suspended unless expressed permission is given by the your respective vice president. Information on personal travel considerations can be found in the COVID-19 (Corona Virus) Related Travel Restrictions Policy.

Are students able to Study Abroad for Fall 2020?

McDaniel made the decision to suspend the Fall 2020 study abroad program to Budapest and will encourage students to instead study abroad in the spring. Students with questions are encouraged to contact Elizabeth M. Davis, Director of International and Off-Campus Programs, at