Photo Courtesy of Sower Staff
By Elisha Meyer
Concordia students returned to campus for the fall semester this week, lugging masks,disinfectant wipes and books while navigating new rules aimed at reducing the risk of COVID-19.
It was the first time students have been in classes on campus since March, when everyone was sent home because of the growing novel coronavirus pandemic. Concordia administrators and faculty spent the spring and summer figuring out the safest way to return to in-person classes, coming up with Concordia Cares policies and procedures.
All students received a booklet containing a summary of the policies when they arrived on campus. Mask wearing is required inside all buildings and classrooms, even if there is more than 6 feet of distance between people. Students are not allowed to visit any other dorm other than their own, except with special permission from faculty. They are asked to use disinfectant wipes and sprays to wipe down any public equipment they have used. Disinfectant supplies also are stationed at various locations in university buildings.
Even with all the new restrictions, students were happy to be back. “It was a long day but I was very happy to see all the familiar faces,” said sophomore Zoe Sjuts.
One professor commented on how faculty are committed to doing what they need to to keep themselves and their students safe.
“The question we have to ask ourselves is how prepared are we to take this (virus) on,” said the professor, who asked to remain anonymous. “That’s why these rules are in effect.”
According to a COVID-19 dashboard created by CUNE, the total number of COVID-19 cases reported on-campus as of Tuesday was seven, five students and two faculty members. Three students and one faculty member have recovered.
“Even though these masks are the new normal for now,” senior Lydia Cook said, “I’m glad that these new policies are allowing us to stay safe and be back on campus.”
Some students are living off-campus to protect themselves from the virus. “I will be taking all online courses for now,” said Reggi Harrel. “I will also try to avoid campus until the restrictions start to go down.”
Faculty members are also adjusting to new class formats, including holding classes online, in person and a mix of the two. More online materials are being used in place of handouts, and professors are attempting to keep a distance of 10 feet between themselves and students.
Students have been asked to help prevent situations with a high risk of COVID-19. Concordia Cares addresses violations of the new policies, warning students that consequences can include removal from campus for refusal to comply. Students should bring concerns related to violations to the Student Life Office.
“While we get acclimated to these new rules,” senior Sarah Ragland said, “I hope that it’s enough to keep us from having to return to online classes this semester.”
Staff writers Olivia Proctor and Kaytlyn Kindschy contributed to this article.