Holding in-person classes on a college campus during a global pandemic was always going to be an extraordinary challenge for any institution. But after months of unprecedented planning by the University’s leadership team, William Woods University has completed a strong start to a fall semester with on-campus instruction.
On the final day of the third week of classes for the 2020 Fall Semester, the University has seen a positive COVID-19 rate of approximately 1.5 percent of students living on campus. And while numbers can certainly fluctuate with the unpredictable virus, the detailed planning of the administration, and adaptability and cooperation of the faculty, staff and students is increasing the likelihood of an entire fall semester held on campus.
“We have been determined since last spring to provide on-campus, in-person instruction to our students for the entire fall semester, while doing everything in our power to ensure our whole campus community remains safe and healthy,” said Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, president of William Woods University. “While we are through just three weeks of fall semester classes, I am confident that the comprehensive health and safety plan we have developed provides us with the best possible chance to achieve our goal.”
Highlights of the University’s COVID-19 health and safety plan include:
- All classes are physically distanced, with 113 feet of space between students, and are being taught in non-traditional areas to accommodate this spacing, including auditoriums, conference rooms, cafeterias, the library, and campus chapel. Courses are being taught both in-person and virtually, giving students an option given their health status. Seating assignments are remaining the same all semester, so if a student is seated near another student that tests positive, they can be easily informed.
- All persons on campus, including visitors, must wear a face covering at all times when physical distancing is not possible, including instructors and students while in class, in community areas, hallways, and residence hall common areas.
- All residence halls, classrooms and buildings are cleaned and disinfected daily. Faculty members have been supplied with disinfectant to sanitize students’ desks between classes. Interior maintenance cleans faculty and staff offices throughout the day. Signage is posted outside of each door, stating the physical distancing capacity for each room.
- Over the summer, each room in every building on campus was measured and physical distancing was calculated for each one using a formula provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Hallways, doors and staircases are designated for one-way traffic. Faculty and staff meetings are mostly virtual. Students are asked to meet with faculty in large conference areas should they request an in-person meeting.
- Visitors are prohibited from entering residence halls. Many students are living in individual rooms. Campus community members are prohibited from hosting or attending parties or social gatherings on or off campus. All gatherings exceeding 20 persons must be approved in advance.
- Any student or staffmember who tests positive for the virus is required to self-isolate until a health professional approves communal activity. Students that stay on campus while in isolation/quarantine have food delivered to them and have access to health services staff. Staff that test positive are expected to stay home until a health professional clears them to return to campus. The WWU website also provides frequent COVID-19 updates, reporting the number of positive cases on campus, the number active and the number recovered. There is an email alert sent to all class members when a positive test is confirmed for any participant in the class, and an email alert to any individual who has been in close contact with someone who tests positive.
- Tucker Dining Hall has extended services to include a text ahead/takeout option, severely limiting crowds at mealtimes. A “hands free” cafeteria style service is being utilized for those who eat in-person, and the hall currently has a 50 chair capacity as opposed to the 300 chairs pre-COVID-19. In the library, the stacks are closed and staff members locate books/resources and notify patrons when they are ready for pickup.