Aug 05, 2020 4:55 PM

Universities prepare for return of students in uncertain times

Posted Aug 05, 2020 4:55 PM
Northwest Missouri State University President John Jasinski/Photo by Todd Weddle, NMSU
Northwest Missouri State University President John Jasinski/Photo by Todd Weddle, NMSU

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

Students soon return to college campuses with university administrators scrambling to ensure a safe environment in a time of pandemic.

Missouri Western State University interim President Elizabeth Kennedy points out the university starts the fall semester early this year, hoping to wrap up classes prior to Thanksgiving. Kennedy says plans have centered on academics, housing, and safety.

“From the very beginning, we have worked with our faculty to determine how best to deliver our educational content to meet the students’ needs and maintain the academic rigor that we need to,” Kennedy tells an audience gathered on the Northwest Missouri State University campus. “So, for example, faculty have shared their preferences in terms of how they would like to present their courses, whether online, hybrid, some model therein, or face to face.”

Both Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph and Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville have plans in place to keep faculty, staff, and students safe during the upcoming fall semester.

Northwest Missouri President John Jasinski says college administrators are having to digest a lot of data to decide how best to handle things.

“There will not be one measure that says yes, we’ll do this or, no, we won’t do that,” Jasingski says. “It will really be a set of indicators collectively, daily, that will allow us to understand where we’re at today, where we’ve been, but where we’re at today and where we’re headed tomorrow.”

Kennedy says much work had gone into preparing the St. Joseph campus for the return of students.

“I’m very cautiously optimistic,” Kennedy says. “We are living in a world where we open up our eyes every day and say, what’s new? And my second thought is I hope it’s good, because it is a very challenging environment.”

Missouri Western begins its semester in about two weeks, which is early, starting on the 17th.  The university plans to wrap up fall classes before Thanksgiving.

Northwest Missouri begins classes August 19th.