CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Wabash College President Gregory Hess says the college is preparing its campus for the return of students this fall. In a letter to students, faculty and staff, Hess said the college will begin the semester two weeks earlier than scheduled, among other adjustments.
Planning has been advised by the school’s COVID Response Team, Healthy Campus Task Force, and Academic Policy Committee, along with guidance from campus healthcare professionals and public health agencies.
“We know that this year will be very different for all of us, but by working together – and trusting one another – we are confident we can deliver an exceptional education for all of our students,” said Hess.
The college plans to implement the following schedule for the fall semester:
- Aug. 7-8: New students move into living units (scheduled and staggered)
- Aug. 9: Ringing-In Ceremony for new students (live-streamed for family members)
- Aug. 10-11: Remaining upperclassmen move into living units (scheduled and staggered)
- Aug. 12: Classes begin
- Nov. 17: Classes end
- Nov. 18-24: Final exams
“We will eliminate fall break so that final exams can take place before Thanksgiving break. The early start gives us our best opportunity to complete the fall semester in residence. We have mobilized across campus to meet the challenges that face us when we return to residential operations. We also know that experts agree that education is part of any mitigation strategy,” stated Hess.
As part of the college’s planning efforts the Student Health Center is putting in place protocols for symptom monitoring for all students, faculty, and staff. Protocols include COVID testing for symptomatic students, isolation of those who are ill, and contact tracing utilizing campus personnel and local and state health department employees.
The campus will be educated on best practices for maintaining individual and community health. Everyone will be required to follow the guidance of our health experts on topics such as face coverings and masks, safe physical distancing from others, monitoring and prompt reporting of symptoms, COVID testing, and other effective disease mitigation strategies.
Wabash says plans are being finalized for how classes will be conducted. Many classes will be taught in larger rooms to allow for physical distance between students and faculty. Other classes will be taught in spaces other than traditional classrooms. Some classes may institute a so-called “hyflex” approach: students will alternately attend class in person, while others participate virtually from their living units.
The college says it is working with North Coast Athletic Conference member schools, conference leadership, and the NCAA to determine the appropriate steps for resuming intercollegiate athletics. Under current guidance, fall sport participants would arrive on campus the same days as non-athletes.
Other efforts being initiated by the school include:
- All students are expected to meet specific expectations outlined in the Gentleman’s Compact to reduce the medical risks of returning to campus and, once on campus, reduce the spread of the virus.
- The Sodexo team is working on maintenance and deep-cleaning of living units. All rooms have been emptied and will be reconfigured according to guidance from health experts. The school is working with its food service providers, Bon Appetit and the fraternity cooks, to plan for the safe preparation and distribution of meals for all students.
- The ability to host events such as the Visiting Artists Series, theatrical productions, concerts, large campus events, and athletic competitions will be limited.
The college says its planning efforts will continue through the start of the fall semester. Wabash expects to release additional information over the coming weeks.
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