Westminster College’s administration announced Wednesday it intends to resume in-person instruction for the 2020 Fall semester — implementing adjustments that will cause some aspects of campus life to look different.
Following the governor’s guidelines as the state begins to gradually reopen, administration said it is monitoring the situation to ensure a “safe learning environment” as it plans to reopen in August, according to a statement on the school’s website.
“Personal, face-to-face, academic and social experience is at the heart of the Westminster experience,” said President Beth Dobkin in a statement. “Now, more than ever, students need the kind of learning environment that Westminster provides—and our communities need Westminster graduates.”
Until a vaccine for COVID-19 is widely available, Westminster states it will continue implementing and enforcing social distancing measures on campus while restricting large social gatherings. This includes commencement ceremonies and athletic events, which “may not occur for several months.”
It’s unclear whether this will apply to on-campus events for the Fall semester, or if it will affect general orientation.
These precautions will be in place until Utah reaches the yellow stage of Gov. Gary Herbert’s “Utah Leads Together 2.0 Plan” — meaning the state has entered the “Recovery Phase” and is deemed low-risk for another outbreak.
“A resurgence of the coronavirus over the coming year is a distinct possibility,” Dobkin said. “So we are also preparing contingency plans to help ensure the health and safety of our community.”
The administration acknowledges many students come from out-of-state, as well as internationally, which will be addressed in future decisions.
“We also acknowledge that many students travel from outside the country and the state of Utah where travel restrictions and other mitigating factors may need to be addressed. We are carefully including these considerations in our planning for Fall Semester.”President Beth Dobkin
The administration reported it would continue its remote learning until the end of May Term, which was previously reported by The Forum. Undergraduate summer classes are widely held online anyway — but discretion on whether to hold classes in-person depends widely on the professor and public health considerations.
“Most of our classes are already small enough to allow for some social distancing,” Dobkin said. “We are reconfiguring classrooms, dining areas, offices, and residence halls to provide more space.”
Dining areas in the Shaw Student Center have been closed off since the outbreak in mid-March, with only to-go options available. Housing has still been available to students throughout the Spring semester, and will continue to be open during the summer.
Updates on housing, travel, commencement plans and other Fall semester plans are expected from the administration in the coming weeks.