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Buffalo-area colleges prepare to welcome students in the fall

Preparing to welcome students back has been a long process for many Western New York colleges, with safety being a top priority.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Preparing to welcome students back has been a long process for many local colleges, with safety the top priority.

Some colleges locally have already revealed what their plans for the fall semester entail. 

Canisius College announced its plans for bringing students back to campus for in-person instruction for the fall semester, starting August 31. 

The school's Recovery Task Force formulated the plan based on guidance from local, state and federal officials. It said while welcoming students back for in-person instruction, health and safety are a top priority for students and staff. 

The school will be reducing class sizes, residence hall and dining hall capacity.

"We're approaching this as a shared responsibility. We're all in this together and we all have to be taking care of ourselves and taking care of each other to keep the campus safe," said John Hurley, the president of Canisius College.

In June, SUNY Buffalo State College announced plans to move back to on-campus learning in the fall, with a long list of safety precautions in place.

Some classes will offer lectures online and in-person instruction in smaller groups. Other courses will be 100 percent online.

The residence halls will resume operations, but with reduced occupancy. 

Fall classes will start on August 31, though in-person instruction will end before the Thanksgiving holiday. The last three weeks of the semester, including exams, will be online-only. There will be no fall recess.

Timothy Gordon, the Vice President for Student Affairs at Buffalo State, told 2 on Your Side students will notice changes right away.

Gordon said, "First and foremost our students will be provided a safety kit and everyone will be expected to wear face coverings and those are supplied by the college. Faculty, staff and students will also receive a kit that has hand sanitizer, a key to help them do touchless things and open different door handles." 

Trocaire College is also preparing for a re-structured fall semester.

Courses will be offered in online formats for fall 2020. Science labs, simulations, and clinical studies will be offered in-person on campus or at the appropriate clinical site. 

"Probably the main thing that we'll be doing is inviting students back for the on-site hands-on experiential classes but we'll be keeping the lecture component of all of our courses online or remote," said Richard Linn, the Senior Vice President Trocaire College.

The fall semester will begin August 31. Instead of a mid-semester break in October, there will now be a week off during Thanksgiving.

From there, Trocaire is tentatively planning on transitioning all classes to an online format through the end of the semester. The campus would remain open.

As part of Daemen College's reopening plan, students, faculty and staff are all required to have COVID-19 testing done.

"It's good for giving all of our campus community a sense of assurance that we're doing everything that we can, in fact above and beyond what apparently most are doing, for their health and safety," said Gary Olson, the President of Daemen College. He added, "I want to make sure that, to the extent that we can, and to the extent that we guard everybody's health and safety, that we still have something that approaches our traditional, supportive atmosphere  that we're so well known for."

While the situation is constantly evolving, each college leader we spoke to said mask usage will be an important piece of the equation.

RELATED: Daemen College requiring mandatory COVID-19 testing

RELATED: Trocaire College announces fall plans