Augustana prepares for students’ return

Augustana prepares for students' return
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 7:25 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - We may be in the middle of summer, but back-to-school season will sneak up fast. The big question right now is, what will school look like come this Fall?

This Fall, Augustana is offering a majority of their classes either in-person or an online/flex format. For students who do come onto campus, they’ll have to wear a mask.

Classes will start on August 26th and are set to be finished before Thanksgiving break.

Auggie put together a task force to create a plan for Fall courses, called the Viking Flex Plan.

Ben Iverson, the Scenario Planning Task Force Chair, said, “The emphasis is on the in-person study, but the portions of the class might be delivered in an intentional virtual sort of way. So, the idea is to spread students out a bit to maintain that good physical distancing to try and keep everybody safe.”

The goal was to make Fall courses flexible for each student & their circumstances.

Co-Chair Academics Working Group Dr. Joel Johnson said, “We have to prepare for the situation that maybe a student has to go into self-isolation because maybe they’ve been exposed. Or, even a faculty member for a period of time. And that’s a difficult problem but, we have a lot of bright people on this campus working on that problem and I think that’s lead to a lot of great innovations and how we’re approaching Fall.”

When students do return they’ll notices several differences on campus, starting with an overall reduced capacity for in-person classes.

Seating will also be spaced out to practice social distancing.

To limit the risk of transmission, class times have also been modified to give extra time for sanitizing in between.

Iverson said, “In some cases, there may be plexiglass installed in particular parts of classes. We’ve really invested also in technology. So, again with this flexible virtual component, a lot of microphones and cameras have been installed in classrooms as well.”

Augustana is also asking students and faculty to remember their responsibility of the campus community’s health.

That starts with everyone signing a health and safety pledge & requiring masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces on campus.

Johnson said, “It’s something as a community, community is one of our core values, community, and service, two of those core values, we want to make sure that as a community we are upholding each other’s safety. Doing small things, and really this is a small thing to make sure that everyone is kept significantly more safe.”

Scenario planning is ready to quickly adjust to any changing health and safety concerns.

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