Ripon College responded to the pandemic during the fall semester

The global pandemic necessitated many changes on campus during the fall semester of 2020.

  • March 17: campus shut down, most students returned home to complete the semester virtually.
  • Some students remained on campus, mostly international students who faced travel restrictions: 16 through end of term, 11 throughout the summer. They required housing and food support.
  • Long-standing events such as Commencement and Alumni Weekend were canceled.
  • Nearly $1.4 million refunded to students for unused housing and food service.
  • Major new expenses for cleaning and sanitizing supplies, needlepoint ionization systems attached directly to heating and air conditioning for air purification, upgraded internet capabilities in the residence halls, technology to allow delivery of online courses.

The Reunite Ripon plan established proactive and preventative steps to ensure a safe return to in-person learning in fall 2020. Over the summer, a national drop in enrollments had been predicted to be 15% to 20%. While true at many regional institutions of higher education, Ripon’s enrollment actually increased over the fall semester of 2019.

Early in the fall 2020 semester, testing was available only for students displaying symptoms. When access to wider testing became available, mandatory free testing was done on Oct. 19 for all students living on campus, and smaller sessions of followup testing followed in subsequent weeks.

Results for the entire semester as of Nov. 22 as the fall semester came to a close:

  • Confirmed positive cases for residential students: 47
  • Money spent on asymptomatic testing for residential students: $130,000
  • Surveillance testing events held: 4 (one for all residential students, three for about 120 each of randomly selected students)

COVID-related expenses from the fiscal year that began July 1, 2020, through the end of the semester came to $276,802. This included expenses for enhanced cleaning, air purification, testing and personal protective equipment (PPE). This amount does not include technical enhancements such as technology and infrastructure upgrades, nor lost revenue because of room and board refunds to students or continuing student grants.

Continually updated information can be found at ripon.edu/coronavirus-information.

(Photo: Jacey Musha ’24 of Omro, Wisconsin)


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