EMMITSBURG, Md. (WJZ) — Mount St. Mary’s University welcomed its largest freshman class back onto campus this week.

The Catholic university in Emmitsburg welcome 650 first-year students and 40 transfer students back onto campus Wednesday and Thursday.

The class is the university’s most diverse; students come from 440 high schools in 28 states and 10 countries, 42% identify as students of color and 30% speak more than one language, including Spanish, Hindi, Twi, Sinhalese, Dutch and Urdu.

A largely virtual orientation is scheduled for Thursday and classes are expected to start Monday, Aug. 17.

“Mount St. Mary’s is fortunate to be able to offer in-person instruction this semester, and we are excited to be welcoming our largest ever freshman class,” said President Timothy E. Trainor. “We have instituted many new policies and procedures to keep our community healthy and safe.”

The university said its rural location on 1,400 acres in Frederick County, which has a low coronavirus positivity rate, supports its risk reduction measures.

“Through the Mount Safe Initiative, more than 100 faculty, administrators and staff have devoted thousands of hours to devising and implementing an excellent plan to reopen campus. Guided by five principles, with the health and safety of our community and student success at the forefront, we have carefully and thoroughly prepared for Fall 2020,” Trainor said. “We are confident that the Return to the Mount plan will effectively reduce risk. We are ready to deliver on our mission to educate ethical leaders who lead lives of significance in service to God and others. ”

The university’s risk reduction efforts include face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, daily health surveys for both students and employees, self-quarantining when needed as well as COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Exposure will also be limited by minimizing size of groups, adhering to posted occupancy limits and using virtual means of communication as much as possible.

The Mount is offering hybrid classes, where a portion of the class attend in person and the rest join remotely, reducing class sizes by half.

Also every arriving student will be tested for COVID-19 and random tests will be conducted throughout the semester.

The university will continue to consult with the Frederick County Health Department

Nearly 600 first-year students will be living on campus, the rest will be commuting or learning remotely.

The Class of 2024 is made of up entrepreneurs and business owners, a student who developed a game for the App Store, a junior borough councilman and a published author.

About 12% of all undergraduates chose to do the fall semester fully remote from home.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors move in this weekend.

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