St. Francis College Opens Its Doors for Start of Fall 2020 Semester
Leah Schmerl
SFC Front Doors

St. Francis College welcomed students back to campus yesterday, as the College started its fall 2020 semester under its new Back to Brooklyn academic model combining some limited in-person instruction with remote online learning.

More than one hundred students streamed through campus doors – at socially-distanced intervals - to take part in the 27 classes staggered throughout the first day.

Most of the in-person classes this semester are part of Terrier Communities, a program in which all locally-based freshmen can take two in-person classes on one designated day each week, with a small cohort of fellow first years who share their academic interests.

Science labs and nursing clinicals for students in all years make up the remainder of in-person instruction.

"It's exciting to be here and see familiar faces," said Ruben Gonzalez, SFC Assistant Dean of Students, who spent the morning greeting and helping arriving students. "Despite the masks I see a lot of smiles. I really feel the Terrier spirit."
Ruben Gonzalez with student

Prior to yesterday, St. Francis College last held on-campus classes on March 6th, before students departed for spring break scheduled to run from March 9th to 13th. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the College to extend its spring break by two days and resume classes exclusively online for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year. The College taught all summer 2020 classes online too.

"The first day of school is always filled with great energy, and that's true today. We're honored to be here greeting our

Rob Oliva with student

freshmen in the same personal way that we've worked with them throughout the whole admissions process," said Rob Oliva, SFC Director of Recruitment in the Office of Admissions, who was on campus yesterday as students arrived. "For some of our new students, it's the first time on campus. Others haven't been here since before March. It's just amazing to be back here with all these new faces."

About 35 percent of all students -- including 100 percent of U.S.-based freshmen -- will take at least one course this semester that combines some in-person on-campus instruction with online learning, what the College calls a "blended hybrid" approach. All students can choose to participate in blended hybrid courses exclusively online, however.

The rest of students' courses will be taught fully online with no in-person component.The College's goal is to deliver a stellar Franciscan education while minimizing the numbers of people on campus at any one time, helping mitigate risk of COVID-19 transmission.

"I'm excited to be back. I really missed this building so much," said SFC junior Amanda Alexandre who, as an SFC student ambassador, helped greet and guide arriving freshmen. "The students are very very excited. Some of them are anxious, like I was my first day of college. It's just regular freshmen [feelings]: excitement and anxiety. I'm happy to help them through this journey that we call college."

This year, St. Francis College anticipates an exceptionally large number of new students enrolling. The College has seen a significant uptick in the amount of new committed students -- freshmen and transfers -- at this stage compared to recent years. The College typically enrolls about 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Final fall 2020 enrollment numbers will be available in coming months.

St. Francis College requires that anyone with a reason to visit campus this semester complete a health screening form prior to arrival, undergo a temperature screening before entering campus buildings and wear a mask and maintain social distance once inside.

Pictured above, top to bottom: Front doors of SFC campus; Ruben Gonzalez assisting student; Rob Oliva speaking with student.