When Mid-Atlantic Christian University’s new students arrive on campus Tuesday, they’ll encounter a host of social distancing rules and coronavirus-related precautions that are becoming standard in the age of COVID-19.
However, they’ll also see the Roanoke Press building that’s been refurbished into a coffee shop and student lounge. The building, which previously housed a printing press that the institution operated, has been painted and remodeled as a new gathering place for students.
There is also a small stage area that will accommodate poetry readings, acoustic music or karaoke. A coffee bar will serve a special blend of coffee branded specifically for the university.
The building’s remodeling into the Roanoke Press coffee shop was accomplished with volunteer labor. MACU President John Maurice said initially the project had no budget but about $5,000 was raised to help out.
Maurice said it’s rewarding to be able to do something positive for students, particularly given the challenges COVID-19 will present the campus this fall.
One of the major challenges will be holding chapel services, which are “part of our DNA,” according to Maurice.
Maurice said MACU officials will be able to maintain chapel programs at half-capacity in accordance with health guidelines and still accommodate participation by students — for whom attendance is mandatory — and a number of faculty and staff.
Chapel this year is being termed “Encounter,” Maurice said. He explained that the vast majority of programs will be worship services but a few could be centered around presentations by elected officials or others from the community. The Encounter lab will more accurately reflect the variety of programs that will be included, he said.
New students will move in Tuesday at specified times based on their last name in order to help maintain social distancing. Family members will be able to help students move in but will be required to wear facemasks on the campus.
Classes begin Aug. 10.
Orientation for new students will include smaller breakout groups than in the past, with five or so “cohorts” that will participate in activities together, Maurice said.
When 6 foot distance cannot be maintained in classrooms students will wear facemasks. In addition, all classrooms will be equipped with cameras to allow students to participate remotely if, for instance, they test positive for COVID-19.
“We can do virtual simultaneously with the live class,” Maurice said.
Some residential rooms are being set aside as quarantine spaces.
Only students will eat in the cafeteria. Faculty and staff will pick up box lunches from the cafeteria to eat elsewhere.
Six new picnic tables have been constructed to provide additional space to eat on campus. Lumber for the tables was donated by a student’s family.
Maurice said MACU takes health and safety seriously and will have appropriate precautions in place throughout the campus.