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Southwestern North Dakota colleges outline fall plans

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As K-12 school districts in the state continue to grapple with education plans, several colleges and universities have gone ahead and released guidelines.

But in a lot of places, there are still more questions than answers.

All colleges and universities in North Dakota that have released guidelines for the fall semester plan to have students back on campus in some way, shape or form. But exactly what that will look like depends on the school.

Southwestern North Dakota schools, including Dickinson State University, Bismarck State College and the University of Mary have all laid out plans for a mix of in-person and online learning.

The BSC Vice President of Student Affairs tells KX News they’re close to finalizing a plan. In a statement, the VP of Academic Affairs said the format of classes is up to individual colleges, not faculty or students.

In an email, Dr. Dan Leingang, the VP of Academic Affairs said, “The decision regarding method of delivery for each class is determined by the college, not the faculty. Faculty [or students] at high risk can request accommodations based on their specific medical condition…”

Like BSC, Dickinson State will have both an online-only format and a face-to-face/hybrid format for most classes and students can enroll in whatever works best for them.

The difference, according to DSU President Stephen Easton, “If students choose to not attend in person, we will allow that, no questions asked.”

That is aside from labs, that he says some students might have to put off for a semester or more.

So what will these hybrid classrooms look like?

President Easton shared, “Cameras at both ends of the classrooms. So one camera that will show the students, and a camera at the back of the room that will show the professor.”

But, he says to get everything set up could take until the end of the semester.

We also talked to the state’s Chief Health Strategist Dr. Joshua Wynne, because he’s also the Dean of the School of Medicine at UND, North Dakota’s largest college.

Dr. Wynne says UND plans to have students back on campus, but not without a lot of changes.

“Hand sanitizers, barriers, masks, increased cleaning, reduced occupancy of dormitories, reduced space in classrooms, and so forth. But in addition, working with the North Dakota Department of Health and the entire university system, we will have a very robust testing schedule,” he explained.

He says the hope is that as many students as possible — if not all — get tested before returning.

“It’s much better to prevent something than to have to deal with it once it occurs,” Dr. Wynne added.

Students can get tested for free at several locations throughout the state, regardless of where their school is.

And of course, each school has a quarantine plan outlined for the inevitable.

“All of us in education and in other industries have to face the reality: we are not going to have a COVID-free environment,” Easton emphasized.

As for masks on campus:

  • DSU has not made a decision yet, but President Easton expects it will lean pro-mask, at least highly recommending them.
  • BSC’s policy says masks where needed.
  • UMary says students may be required to wear masks, depending on the state’s risk level.

President Easton even says he expects this sort of hybrid format to be around from here on out.

For a full list of guidelines from each school, click below:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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