Photo Courtesy of Sower Staff
By Elisha Meyer
The administration at Concordia University-Nebraska is working to provide answers to questions from students and parents as developments continue to unfold regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The university first took action Thursday afternoon when Russ Sommerfeld, Concordia’s interim president, informed faculty, staff and students via email that spring break would be extended by another week, from Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 21. Sommerfeld also wrote that for the following two weeks, from Monday, March 23 through Friday, April 3, all classes will be taught online. The university administration plans to reassess the situation at that point to determine a plan for the rest of the semester.
Sommerfeld in his email statement wrote that the situation remains very fluid and that the health of both students and the campus community as a whole is the university’s highest priority.
The student life directors are working to provide for students in the safest ways possible. Rebekah Freed, Director of Student Development, announced via email that all students will have access to their dorms from now until Monday at noon. Students that need further accommodations are being asked to call the Student Life Office at (402) 643-3651. The university is reminding students that on-campus presence of the student body should be at a minimum for the upcoming week and that students should stay there only if they are unable to return home and only after obtaining Concordia approval.
All students will be allowed to return to campus voluntarily beginning on March 23. However, all classes that week and the following week will be taught on-line. Students who do decide to move back onto campus are being encouraged to exercise caution in all social interactions. The university is suggesting that students should maintain a six-foot distance from each other and refrain from gathering in large groups.
Several campus resources will continue to remain active for students. These include the Academic Resource Center, career services, and health and wellness resources. Rev. Ryan Matthias, Concordia’s on-campus pastor, will remain available to students both on campus and off.
Non-essential student employment, with permission of the employees’ supervisor, will also resume on March 23.
News regarding the university athletic department was released Friday morning. In accordance with the Great Plains Athletic Conference, all teams have ceased activity until April 5 effective immediately. This includes organized practices and competitions for all athletic teams, not just those currently playing their respective seasons.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has not made a definite decision on spring athletics for the remainder of the 2020 season. The NAIA cancelled the remaining winter national championships as well as its annual national convention on Thursday.
Concordia’s women’s basketball team will not have the chance to defend its 2019 national championship as a result of the cancellation. Senior Grace Barry is one of six seniors that unknowingly play their final game on Wednesday, finishing with a 137-10 overall record in four years. Barry took to her Twitter and Instagram accounts to express both disappointment and gratitude.
The Center for Disease Control is working to provide information for those who are at high risk including warning signs, how to prepare for quarantine, and what should be done if someone gets sick. The CDC outlines precautions that should be taken by individuals which include the following:
- Avoid close contact & large crowds.
- Wash your hand with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your face, mouth, and nose.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
A full list of precautions and other tips can be accessed at the following address: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html.
No cases of coronavirus have been confirmed as of yet in Seward County, but 13 cases have been confirmed statewide. In an effort to diagnose patients as soon as possible to prevent future spreading, the Memorial Health Care Systems in Seward County is offering free online screenings with the use of the promocode COVID-19. Patients are asked to take a quick online questionnaire at https://memorialhealthcare.zipnosis.com/ before scheduling.
Stay tuned for more information concerning the effects of the pandemic. Updates are expected to be posted on Concordia’s website at www.cune.edu/covid19.
Notice: Any email sent to Freed is currently being followed up with an automatic reply due to the quantity of questions coming in from Concordia students in an effort to answer all other questions as swiftly as possible.