Iowa State students have said they are excited but nervous to come back to campus in the middle of a pandemic.
In an email sent to faculty members Wednesday afternoon, Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert announced detailed plans pertaining to faculty and staff regarding Iowa State’s reopening.
“I can say that the university is working hard to make sure that campus is ready for the fall semester and I look forward to seeing everyone soon,” said Student Body President, planning committee member and junior in political science Morgan Fritz.
More detail was also provided regarding alternative work arrangements for those that are high risk for COVID-19. This goes along with the launch of “Cyclones Care,” an initiative that encourages students, faculty and staff to remain vigilant and practice sanitary health behaviors such as wearing face coverings and frequently washing hands while both on and off campus.
Students are excited about the plan to return to campus but are nervous about how smoothly the transition will go with new health measures and recommendations.
“This can be scary because some of us have been doing the most to keep ourselves safe. Going forward I am most excited to see what our testing capabilities are going to look like, but as of right now I think that we are building the foundations of a very solid plan,” said junior marketing major Emma Plum.
Wickert said in the email that no instructor will be forced to teach in-person classes, but also reminds them “The hallmark of Iowa State’s academic experience is a rich, on-campus environment that includes world-class instruction, blending practical and critical thinking skills, as well as high impact experiential learning opportunities that prepare students to succeed after graduation.”
Alyssa Ivy, a senior in animal ecology, said she will be applying to veterinary school this year and is grateful she still has the option to foster in-person relationships with professors.
“I’m glad that the university is trying to create a blended delivery format for the fall,” Ivy said. “I’m planning on applying to veterinary school soon, so being able to still interact face to face with my professors and create those relationships is crucial in order to have people to write letters of recommendation.”
Ivy is also one of many that works as well as attends school and said she needs more information so she can plan accordingly.
“I’m a bit stressed about how the semester will end up going in terms of figuring out which classes will actually be meeting versus which ones will be online,” Ivy said. “I work two jobs outside of school, so being able to plan ahead is pretty important.”
Large lecture-based classes will be completed online and may also accompany small-group learning opportunities that could be conducted either online or in person. Medium and small-sized classes will be taught either in person or in a hybrid format of online and in-person instruction. All in-person instruction must follow safety procedures.
Specified safety procedures include limiting class size, a recommendation of face coverings, enhanced and more frequent cleaning, new protocols for entering/exiting classrooms, more space within the classroom and the use of plexiglass panels.
Plum said she is happy to see plans coming together.
“I am glad that the university is seeming to take some big steps in its reopening plan and I’m glad to see that some very necessary precautions are being taken in order to make in-person classes feasible,” Plum said. “What makes me nervous is that a lot of precautions on our end as students seem more 'recommended' than 'required' and I don’t know how seriously some of my peers will take those recommendations.”
Wickert also announced a change in class times to avoid congestion in hallways and on buses. Classes will remain the same length and continue on Labor Day to help make up for the fact that the semester will be two weeks shorter than usual.
The plan also takes into account the possibility of absences in the event of another significant outbreak in the fall. Instructors and departments are requested to have a backup plan, such as having a secondary instructor ready to step in and teach the class if necessary.
University Resources also has a plan in case of extended absences of faculty members due to being sick, being directed to quarantine or having to care for a sick family member.