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McDaniel College announces Fall 2020 plans

Informed by the recommendations of the Return to the Hill (RTTH) Task Force along with its five committees, as well as guidance from state and county health officials, key decisions involve Academics, including changes to the undergraduate academic calendar, as well as Health and Safety, Residential Life and Food Service, Student Support and Campus Life, and Financial Matters. The College plans to honor its commitment to students by absorbing over $1 million in expenses on efforts related to health and safety to ensure the residential and academic experience is as safe as possible.

Students walking on campus

McDaniel has announced plans for Fall 2020 reopening.

McDaniel College has announced its Fall 2020 reopening plans.

Key decisions involve Academics, including changes to the Undergraduate Academic Calendar, as well as Health and Safety, Residential Life and Food Service, Student Support and Campus Life, and Financial Matters. Read the full email sent to all undergraduate students here.

The Return to the Hill (RTTH) Task Force, created by McDaniel President Roger Casey and led by Executive Vice President/Provost Julia Jasken, has been meeting regularly to develop recommendations along with five subcommittees: Academic Sub-Committee, Campus Community Health and Safety Sub-Committee, Operations, Communication, and Business Continuity Sub-Committee, Student Residential Experience Sub-Committee, and the Off-Campus and Extracurricular Engagement Sub-Committee. View the Return to the Hill (RTTH) Planning Framework (PDF).

As stated in an email sent to current undergraduate students from the Return to the Hill (RTTH) Committee on June 17, 2020, “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our priority at McDaniel has been the safety and well-being of the members of our community…

"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.”

In addition, the College plans to honor its commitment to students by absorbing over $1 million in expenses on efforts related to health and safety to ensure the residential and academic experience is as safe as possible. McDaniel is following guidance from state and county health officials.

“It is apparent that McDaniel College’s Return to the Hill planning process has been thoughtful, deliberate, and thorough,” said Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer '87. “The Carroll County Health Department is pleased to be working closely with the leadership team to develop plans to reopen McDaniel’s campus. We look forward to welcoming McDaniel students, staff and faculty back to Carroll County for the fall.”

With Carroll County under a Phase Two reopening plan, the College has taken steps to begin gradually reopening campus. The Office of Admissions opened to prospective student visitors by appointment only effective June 15, and the McDaniel Local orientation session for first-year students will continue to be offered in person beginning in July (virtual sessions will be offered for students who prefer an online experience).

Workplace guidelines have also been established to help prepare faculty and staff with returning to campus. View the Return to the Hill Workplace Guidebook (PDF).

A Return to the Hill (RTTH) webpage at has been created and will continue to be updated with the latest information regarding the fall semester, including additional key decisions.

The following key decisions have been made for Fall 2020:

For full details, read the email sent to all undergraduate students here.


  • McDaniel has made changes to the Undergraduate Academic Calendar with classes beginning Aug. 20, 2020, and most students moving on to campus between Aug. 14–19. The semester will now end on Nov. 20, 2020, with the semester concluding on Nov. 24 following the exam period. No undergraduate instruction or exams will occur after Thanksgiving. There will be no fall break in October and classes will be held on Labor Day, Sept. 7. The full undergraduate academic calendar is available here.
  • The semester will include two 7-week academic sessions: Session A and Session B. Over the course of the semester, students will still be completing the same number of courses, just not across the normal 15-week period. Session A will run Aug. 20–Oct. 6 and Session B will run Oct. 9–Nov. 24.
  • McDaniel will offer three types of classes: Traditional in-person classes, Hybrid classes, and Online classes. As many Traditional in-person classes will be offered as possible as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Most 1000-level classes will be held as Hybrid classes that are partially in person and partially online. The majority of Online classes will be at the 2000 level and above.
  • 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 Aug. 24–Oct. 18 and Fall Session II dates are Oct. 19–Dec. 13.

Health and Safety

  • 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. Masks will not be required in outdoor spaces as long as physical distancing is maintained.
  • Housekeeping staff will increase the frequency of cleaning and sanitation in campus facilities, including common and high-touch areas. 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, are being developed and will be shared with the campus community over the coming weeks.
  • COVID-19 testing protocols will be in place and McDaniel is prepared to enact testing, contact tracing and isolation protocols in conjunction with the Carroll County Health Department.
  • The Carroll County Health Department will partner with the College should any student test positive for COVID-19. McDaniel has also expanded our relationship with a local testing facility called LabCorp to offer testing on campus. Beds are being reserved for quarantining and isolating students, if needed.
  • The Wellness Center at McDaniel 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. Additional tele-health capability will be available beyond normal campus services.

Residential Life and Food Service

  • 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 10.
  • Students will be able to reside in double rooms. No triples or quads will be available for student housing.
  • New housing policies and restrictions related to COVID-19 will be in place that adhere to state and federal guidelines. View these policies here.
  • 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.

Student Support and Campus Life

  • All student supports, including the Bursar’s Office, Center for Experience and Opportunity, Financial Aid, Hoover Library, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Registrar, Student Accessibility & Support Services (SASS), Student Engagement, Wellness Center, and others, will still be available, either through in-person meetings or through Zoom conference calls.
  • The new academic schedule still includes a daily Activity Hour for students to stay involved on campus through participation in clubs, organizations, and athletics. Physical distancing and other health and safety guidelines will still need to be abided by.
  • Although the Centennial Conference is still finalizing its decision related to conference competition for the fall season, athletic teams will still have the opportunity to participate in team activities, which may include team meetings, team social events, practices, and study halls.

Financial Matters

  • Tuition and room and board charges will not change for the 2020–2021 academic year. To provide increased flexibility, all students on a McDaniel College meal plan will receive double the amount of McDaniel Bucks for the fall semester.
  • To accommodate the needs of students and families who may require additional payment flexibility for the 2020–2021 academic year, McDaniel has made changes to its billing policies, including waiving the $75 enrollment fee for McDaniel’s 5-month payment plan for all families effective July 1, 2020, and moving the final payment deadlines for incoming students from July 1 to August 1 and for returning students from July 15 to August 15. No late fees will be issued for the 2020–2021 academic year.