COLUMBIA, Mo (KMIZ)
Columbia College plans on having students back on campus under a new model brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Columbia College Provost and Senior Vice President Dr. Piyusha Singh said school officials coordinated with the CDC and local health leaders to come up with the plan.
"We were trying to balances what's keeping students and faculty safe, and everybody else in our campus community, and how we help people to continue their education," Singh said.
In-person classes begin Aug. 31, with the option to go virtual, as well.
The college will also offer students a "high flex" format of learning.
"You sign up for your class like you always have. If you want to come in-seat, we will have a seat for you," Singh said. "On the other hand, if you wake up tomorrow and you have reasons, either you're not feeling well or you're worried about what kind of contact you've had with somebody, you can just log into your class, virtually."
The University said if a student is in a class that meets three times a week, the individual could choose to come in-person on Monday, then decide to come virtually on Wednesday.
Singh said the format hopes to address just about any situation that a student could be in at this point during the pandemic.
"We're giving them the opportunity to choose, whether that's in-seat or virtual, without having to choose ahead of time," she said.
She added the method prepares faculty for the possibility of a fully-virtual campus.
"If I planned a class that was fully in-seat, yeah I could do that, but we are all planning. At some point we need to be able to shift virtual if that happens," Singh said. "We are telling (faculty) to create one (course) right now but make sure the course design is baked in with the virtual aspect."
After Thanksgiving, all of Columbia College's classes will go fully-virtual through the end of the semester.
However, not all students said that online classes will necessarily do the trick for them.
"I'm a biology major, so I can't take my labs virtually," said Carli Buschjost, a Columbia College senior. "I was just thinking of how I was going to get this done because it's required to graduate with a biology degree."
Buschjost said she is planning on using the in-seat option of the university's high-flex plan unless she has coronavirus symptoms. She included requiring more virtual meetings for classes could increase student accountability.
Buschjost said she feels that Columbia College is doing a good job guiding students and parents through the process, but also knows that her senior year will not be the one she planned.
"The 'typical college experience' is not going to be the same. Everything changes. You can't just walk around on campus and high-five someone or even walk within six feet of people," Buschjost said.
Singh said the changes students will experience this year will prepare them for the future.
"We aren't just preparing you for your first job, but we're preparing you for your seventh job, maybe," she said. "You're just going to have to keep changing and keep responding as the world changes."