Ripon College logo 2020

Students will be returning to Ripon College for the fall semester.

After sending students home for good in mid-March following spring break, students spent the spring semester via online learning. Ripon College officials, however, announced this morning (Monday) that they're planning for students to finally return — though potentially with a modified schedule.

According to a post on the college's website, in-person classes and residence life on campus is expected to resume in August, and "college administrators, faculty and staff are spending the summer readying the campus for the new reality of the public health situation."

“We want our students and community to return to our beautiful campus in a safe and healthy environment,” Ripon College President Zach Messitte said. “We plan to open in August, but we also will follow best practices in order to minimize health risks for our students and employees. This will require us to be flexible and thoughtful should the situation suddenly change.”

Changes could include altering the traditional academic calendar, such as eliminating the October fall break and ending the semester on or near the Thanksgiving holiday.

Other colleges already have announced similar plans to end the semester as early as possible, to ensure that students aren't on campus any more than necessary when illnesses often increase.

“We are watching what similar schools are doing around the state and the country,” Messitte said. “If changing the calendar will help minimize the health risks to our community, we are going to look carefully at it.”

Details about the fall semester schedule is expected to be made in early July.

According to the college, plans for the August reopening of campus are being developed by a task force of employees from across the campus. The group is preparing a safe return to campus operations in keeping with best public health practices and guidance from federal and state governments.

Topics the group is addressing include: academic policies, social distancing practices, protocols for residence halls, face-covering requirements, dining plans and strict attention to disinfection and clean environments. Students and employees will be given a cloth mask with the Ripon logo when they return to campus in August.

“Our commitment to the small college residential experience runs deep,” Messitte said. “We will continue to provide our students a high quality, liberal arts education this fall, just as we have for the past 169 years.”

The college will continue offering updates related to the pandemic via its COVID-19 update site at

Ian Stepleton is the editor of the Ripon Commonwealth Press, and been with the paper since September 2000. Starting with fall 2016, he also is an adjunct professor of journalism at Ripon College, and advisor to the college's newspaper, the College Days.

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