St. Scholastica plans to reopen campuses in the fall
Plans are subject to change depending on circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost a month ahead of schedule, the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth has made the decision to reopen its campuses and residence halls to students in the fall.
Previously, the college was aiming to let staff and students know by mid-June what the situation on campus would look like in the fall, but that decision was accelerated when the school's task force group determined it was possible to reconvene safely in the fall.
"They were able to come to the conclusion that we could do this," said St. Scholastica's executive director of marketing, communications and media, Bob Aschenmacher.
While the decision to reopen in the fall was made based on guidelines and information provided by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other higher education institutions and Gov. Tim Walz, Aschenmacher emphasized that plans are subject to change depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic plays out.
President Barbara McDonald stressed the same in a news release.
“In making this decision, we have drawn upon the best resources and information available,” McDonald said. “However, please know that this plan remains flexible and could change if pandemic circumstances require it. The safety of our students, faculty and staff will remain our top priority.”
Classes will begin Sept. 8 and courses will be taught using a mix of in-person and virtual methods.
Task force groups made up of faculty, staff and student representatives are developing plans to address various aspects of campus life, including adjusting course schedules to keep in-person classes small, planning for social distancing and re-configuring classrooms, gathering spaces and offices as well as opening residence halls and food services following the Minnesota Department of Health's guidelines.
"All will be done with scrupulous attention to safe distancing and the best practices for public health," Aschenmacher said, adding that most of the details are still being worked out.
"We are going to use the best preventive measures to keep all of our students and employees safe," he said.
The college's student health services is working with the county and the state in order to be able to address testing and contact tracing needs, though it's not yet clear what that will look like.
On Wednesday, the college announced that its graduate program for student teachers would be offered fully online this fall. Prior to the pandemic the program had been taught partially online and the move to fully online intends to help teaching shortages in rural locations, a news release read.
Along with other higher educations all over the nation, St. Scholastica announced in mid-March that the college would be transitioning into remote teaching.