Photo Courtesy of Sower Staff
By Hannah Birtell
Concordia University Nebraska officials spent the spring and summer studying out how to safely reopen campus this fall in the middle of the novel coronavirus pandemic, creating the Concordia Cares plan as a guideline for students, faculty and staff.
Concordia Cares is structured to help keep students safe in all aspects of college life, from the classroom to the dorm to sports and activities, officials said, and students will see many changes to campus to accomplish that goal.
Officials want to control the flow of student traffic to allow for social distancing during passing periods. New floor signs in all public buildings are being installed to help accomplish this.
Director of Marketing Seth Meranda said that social distancing is not always possible in hallways and classrooms so students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus will be required to wear face masks for those occasions.
“Essentially, we are looking at if you are in a situation, whether that is walking between classes or in a classroom, that you cannot maintain physical distance, then we are requiring face masks,” Meranda said.
Classroom learning also will look different this year as courses may be held in person, online or a combination of both.
“For example, say you have a Tuesday/Thursday class that meets at 9:30. In some situations, half the class will be there in person on Tuesday and the other half will participate online and then vice versa on that Thursday,” Meranda said.
The same guidelines will be enforced in student dorms and the cafeteria. Dorm rooms will have a limited occupancy of four people, and no one will be allowed into a dorm building unless they have a room there. The cafeteria also will have a four-person limit per table.
While there are many new guidelines to follow, some aspects of Concordia still will feel a little more like normal to students. Chapel will continue to be offered at 11 a.m. daily but students will need to sign up in order to maintain social distancing. There still will be opportunities for students to get involved in activities and clubs. Concordia is encouraging clubs to consider meeting online, but those that are unable to do so may be able to meet in person. All clubs and activities will need to follow campus guidelines. There also is hope that students will be able to participate in intramurals this year.
“After we get a cusp about how varsity sports are going to go, we will be evaluating intramurals,” Meranda said.
Students living off-campus are being asked to play their
part by taking personal safety precautions in their residences. One student taking such caution to heart is Keaton Burgess, a junior living
in the new Columbia Heights apartment building across the street from campus.
“As far as I know there are no set precautions for COVID-19,” he said, “but it is always important to social distance and wear a mask.”
Concordia officials said they are committed to continuing to adapt as the pandemic situation changes. Students can learn more about
Concordia’s plans and policies at cune.edu/covid19.
“Health and safety is our top priority,” Meranda said. “We are a caring Christian community. We know that in order for this to work, we all
have to be invested.”