Washburn University staff and faculty are preparing for the upcoming fall semester amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Weekly staff meetings are constantly being updated with new information regarding the growth of the virus and how it will affect fall courses.
The arrival of coronavirus has thrown innumerable schedules, summer plans and other events off the calendar altogether – including many students’ plans for continuing their education.
Washburn President Jerry Farley and administrators have been heavily involved in doing their best to ensure the campus will be open in the fall and that face-to-face classes will resume.
The idea of face-to-face classes is immediately met with the following concerns – will the virus be gone by the fall, will there be a vaccine widely available or will it get worse?
“We are in the process of planning what the fall semester will look like,” said Associate VPAA Jennifer Ball. “Nothing is set in stone at this point.”
Governor Laura Kelly recently ended the shelter-in-place order, allowing people in Kansas more freedom of movement but keeping specific businesses from operating.
Under the current phased-in approach, businesses can expect to reopen next month – with social distancing and mask requests in place.
“We have a better idea of what the plan is, given certain benchmarks,” said Ball. “If you look at the Governor’s plan, you’ll see certain benchmarks need to be met for stages in the plan. If the benchmarks are met by the fall, the shelter-in-place will be significantly relaxed.”
Washburn faculty does have contingency plans in place for a variety of scenarios and have required faculty to make their classes accessible online with a few exceptions, according to Ball.
Plans that have been discussed include requiring everyone on campus to wear a mask, removing much of the furniture in the common areas and making it so that social distancing can be applied in the classroom setting.
“We’re currently following Shawnee county guidelines,” said Eric Grospitch, VP of Student Life. “Even though some social distancing guidelines may be relaxed in the fall, we encourage people to be thoughtful of that. Our plan is to provide a mask to all students, faculty and staff.”
The campus residence halls and apartments are tentatively going to be reopened in the fall as of today, but that could change in a few months. New cleaning guidelines are going to be implemented to keep the transmission of germs down.
International programs have been heavily impacted by the outbreak.
Students that traveled to Washburn from other countries last spring are still stuck on campus. International programs are being held in a limbo state until we get closer to the fall semester.
The university has dubbed the strategy for the fall semester as the “Non Nobis Solum Plan,” which is Washburn’s official motto meaning “Not for Ourselves Alone.”
Washburn has made several student aid items available to help those who need financial assistance. The assistance includes a possible scholarship of $4,500 for those who sign up for classes before the end of May, the Ichabods Moving Forward Grant and the Cares Act Emergency Financial Resources budget.
Edited by Shelby Spradling & Wesley Tabor