(MARYVILLE, Mo.) Northwest Missouri State has one week left to finalize plans for the fall semester while incoming students prepare for the new college normal.
The faculty and staff in Maryville have been planning all summer and seem fairly confident in what lies ahead.
"It'll be a little weird, a little bit different," Northwest's vice president of student affairs, Matt Baker said. "But I don't think it's so drastic that we need to do anything largely different."
Classes are set to begin on Wednesday the 19th and will move virtually once Thanksgiving break begins. All finals will be taken online.
Northwest has a mitigation plan set in place for students, teachers and faculty to follow that will allow for a smooth and easy transition to start the school year.
Starting Thursday, August 13th, the freshmen will begin to move in. Typically incoming students move in on the Saturday before school starts, but this year they will move in sporadically over four days.
Northwest is still allowing students to have roommates in the dorms. They are also providing extra private rooms to allow students to spread out in the dorms need be.
Masks are required indefinitely on campus and in buildings, in accordance with the CDC recommendations and the Nodaway County mask ordinance that is in place until September 30th. The University has not made a decision on if they will require masks after the ordinance or not.
The classrooms will look slightly different. Those that have smaller class sizes that can easily social distance will do so. A few of the lecture courses have been moved to online only. Teachers have the option of teaching a blended course as well. They can go remotely during the semester if they feel the need to.
All professors are prepared to accommodate for students who are at risk of attracting the virus or test positive for COVID-19. This allows the students to go remote for a short period of time and can attend in-person classes when the student feels safe to do so.
When asked about available testing for students and staff, Baker said that the University has options. He added that Mosaic LifeCare has teamed up with Northwest and will test students that show symptoms. Those tests can be done at the campus clinic or at Mosaic LifeCare in Maryville. Baker also added that the Nodaway County Commission is offering funding for asymptomatic testing. That testing will be limited.
Campus organizations such as Greek life, leadership clubs, and other student organizations, are advised to meet virtually. Clubs that want to hold events in-person must follow the mitigation rules.
Matt Baker lastly added that, "We've never done this before. Everyone is making this up as they go."
Questions still loom over the University, but all faculty and staff feel confident that if everyone wears face coverings and social distances, then the semester will be fairly normal.
To check out the full COVID-19 recovery plan, click here.