Colleges prepare for students returning to campus during pandemic

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Students are preparing for a different type of college experience as the beginning of school nears.

School starts back up in less than two weeks for some colleges in Kansas. Officials are hoping that students feel confident when they return during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fort Hays State University is promoting flexibility in coursework. The school will offer online classes, and hybrid classes with the professor deciding whether to meet in person. Classes that need to be taught in person won’t last the entire semester.

“We will offer a select few in person courses on campus, these are the kind of course that really can’t be delivered without being face to face, laboratory type things, but those will be in eight week in duration only,” said Scott Cason, chief communication officer for Fort Hays State University.

The school is requiring students and faculty wear masks when in the classroom. School leaders are also making sure students stay safe when not in class.

“Set up procedures and protocols in the residence halls and in the dining halls to make sure that we keep social distancing,” Cason said. “Our students will be able to carry out their meals. We’re building outdoor spaces that they can eat with some separation as well.”

At Pittsburg State University, the majority of classes will still be in person. Students will be required to wear masks and classrooms will look different than years past.

“We have done a thorough look, we looked at every course, every classroom, every class size, moved location of a lot of courses to accommodate social distancing, used the calculations provided by the CDC and KDHE to determine how many students we can have in a room at a time given its size,” said Abby Fern, chief marketing officer at Pitt State.

The school will also be offering an increase of online classes, hybrid classes, as well as a hi-flex option. That will split up a class into small groups so they can still meet safely in person on separate days.

School officials said the new type of learning will take some getting used to.

“This fall will definitely be different, and students need to be ready for those changes,” Fern said. “I believe our faculty has done an outstanding job in figuring out how to deliver their coursework in ways that enable students to stay safe and healthy, or help ensure that they stay safe and healthy, while maintaining a really high degree of instructional quality.”

Schools are taking different stances on offering coronavirus tests.

The University of Kansas will require students and staff to get a test if they are returning to campus. Pitt State will offer free tests to all of its on-campus residents and Fort Hays State is offering free tests to all students and staff.

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