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HUNTINGTON — Orientation for new students at Marshall University typically includes tours of campus, meeting new roommates for the first time and introductions of important people on campus, such as the chief of police and student advisers. But this year, like everything else in the country, will be different because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marshall announced this week that all new student orientation sessions will be conducted online this summer in keeping with safety and health guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, university leaders also said they are hopeful that face-to-face classes will resume in the fall semester.

New student orientation, a requirement for all incoming freshmen and transfer students, serves as the formal introduction to the university. In a release, the university said students can expect an online experience that will include group sessions, live Q&A, academic college meetings with deans and academic advisers, student life and housing information, additional resource information and the opportunity for one-on-one contact with members of the Marshall community.

Students who already have received a confirmation for orientation will maintain their original date. Students who have not yet registered may reserve a date by completing the orientation registration form at There are at least 10 online orientation sessions available across June, July and August.

To participate in orientation, a student must have paid a $100 deposit or have been approved for an enrollment deposit waiver. The deposit is applied to a student’s first semester tuition bill.

Students with new and previously confirmed registrations should watch for additional information about logging in to the virtual, online Marshall experience. Details will be mailed closer to the scheduled date.

Questions may be directed to the Office of New Student Orientation by phone at 304-696-2354 or by email at

The university is still monitoring the pandemic, but in a message to students Monday, President Jerry Gilbert said it is looking more likely that campus will be open for face-to-face classes in the fall.

“We know our students and their families place great value on the personal approach we offer at Marshall, and we are working steadily toward safely and responsibly providing an on-campus academic experience for our students in the fall,” he said. “Given the trends and projections available to us today, we believe that modifications to the fall semester — such as creative class scheduling and other social distancing strategies — can make that possible.”

The Division of Academic Affairs is working with the academic deans and university health and safety experts to develop academic and student life plans for the fall. Gilbert said more information will be shared as plans are finalized, but they are committed to having as close to normal fall semester as possible.

University administrators also are starting to plan for a reopening of campus offices, although Gilbert cautioned any resumption of full on-campus operations is likely still a few weeks away. He said the university’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety, Human Resources Services and Marshall Health’s chief medical officer are developing step-by-step processes for reopening the offices. Once a comprehensive reopening plan is finalized, Gilbert said it will be shared with all faculty and staff. Campus offices have been operating remotely since the week of March 23, with almost all employees telecommuting.

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