Area colleges planning for a blend of online and in-person learning this fall

Colleges in the Great Lakes Bay Region are making plans to open classrooms and dorms to students this fall. Some classes will be online. However, if COVID-19 cases rise, the colleges are ready to transition to all remote learning.

All schools ask that everyone ­­­– students and staff, high-risk and low risk – self-monitor for any symptoms. At the first sign of a fever, dry cough, sudden loss of taste or smell, or any other common COVID-19 symptoms, people are asked to isolate and stay home.

Here are some of the details in the tentative reopening plans for Delta College, Saginaw Valley State University, and Northwood University. Administrators at each school caution that plans could change again before opening day.

Delta College
Delta College also is evaluating every option for safely offering classes this fall. In June, Delta College President Dr. Jean Goodnow announced a Campus Reopening Plan that calls for a  blend of in-person and online instruction for fall classes.

“Key elements include how Delta College will arrange its campus facilities to maintain health and safety protocols for all faculty, staff, students, and community visitors,” Goodnow wrote in a statement to the college community. “It is abundantly evident how intertwined each of our decisions are as we move forward. But each decision leads us in a new and positive direction. As a team, we are now defining a new method of offering the highest quality education ­– in our region, in Michigan, and beyond.”

Click here to read updates on the college’s response to COVID-19.

Saginaw Valley State University
SVSU, which has a cardinal as its mascot, named its plan NEST ­– New Expectations for a Safer Tomorrow.

As it stands now, SVSU’s plan calls for face-to-face classes on campus early in the semester. After Thanksgiving, classes will switch to a remote format and allow students to stay home rather than returning to campus.

“We want our students, faculty, and staff to be safe, and this is one prudent measure we can take to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19 in the event of a late fall resurgence,” SVSU President Donald Bachand writes in a statement about the plan.

If the switch to online classes needs to happen sooner, the university is ready, according to the  plan.

SVSU also is emphasizing wearing masks, social distancing, and increased sanitization procedures for everyone at the school.

Click here to read the university’s plan and view frequently-asked questions.

Northwood University
The Midland-based university is finalizing its plans for re-opening in August, says Senior Communications Officer Rachel Valdiserri. The team writing the plan is considering a range of health and safety measures to protect students, faculty, and staff.

Northwood’s plan is complicated by the flooding the Midland community experienced in May.

“We’ll make sure Northwood is doing what it needs to to protect students and employees,” Valdiserri says. “We’re doing our part.”

Currently, Northwood is planning for in-person instruction and hybrid delivery in August. But class size likely will be reduced in order to allow students to sit farther apart. The school may hold classes in non-traditional spaces to expand its options, she adds. Instructors are ready to transition to online classes if it’s necessary. “We can go online without sacrificing academic quality,” she says.

Freshmen dorms and most residences will be single occupancy and cleaning protocols will be increased.

While writing the plan, the university has paid special intention to some populations on campus who face higher risk, such as commuter students who travel back and forth between their homes, off-campus jobs, and the school. Faculty, graduate students, and even non-traditional undergraduate students may be at higher risk for complications from the virus due to underlying health conditions or age.

“We’re being really strict about making sure we all do that,” Valdiserri says.

The university is following guidelines from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) as they make decisions about fall sports.

As its COVID-19 plan evolves, the university is sharing it with students and employees. Click here to read a statement about the university’s response. The university’s FAQ page continues to be updated on the website to allow for rapid changes to the information.

“If something changes, we have a pretty fluid plan,” Valdiserri says.