All Berea students are invited back to Berea College's campus to return for the fall semester, which is scheduled to start Aug. 12. 

The Administrative Committee of Berea College announced the semester will end on Nov. 24, prior to Thanksgiving, according to a news release.

"The Administrative Committee carefully reviewed input from various college groups, including the Division Council, logistics groups and the Fall Re-opening Task Force, as well as information from various agencies regarding the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic nationally, statewide and locally to inform its decision," the release states.

Berea College President Lyle Roelofs said, "Our primary consideration was for the overall welfare of the students. We recognize that their wellbeing — and indeed all other members of the community — includes doing our utmost to protect them from contagion in so far as possible and also facilitating their ability to successfully make satisfactory educational progress.”

Students will be given agency to decide based on their own personal situations to return. Those who do return "must understand that the college will not operate in a business-as-usual manner since COVID-19 is an ongoing threat," according to the release. If they feel they can't comply with the guidelines, they will be advised to choose not to return.

Students who don't return will be able to qualify for a leave of absence or be permitted to enroll in courses that faculty may elect to offer remotely.

The college plans to follow Kentucky’s Healthy at Work guidelines for faculty, staff and students. Students will be informed about changes to on-campus procedures for minimizing the risk of a virus outbreak and policies about stricter disciplinary procedures, which are still being developed, the release notes.

Throughout the fall semester, the college will assess how the COVID-19 pandemic is progressing to determine Berea’s approach for the spring 2021 semester.

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The college admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 40 states and 70 countries.

Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of eight federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly, earning money for books, housing and meals. The college’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.

Reach Sara Kuhl at 624-6626; follow her on Twitter @saraekuhl.

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