Spring 2021 MSU return-to-campus plan improves on Fall 2020 plan

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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — In January, college students will be returning to the Midwestern State University campus, many from all over the country.

The pressure is on MSU administrators to determine the safest way to return for the Spring 2021 semester.

The Spring 2021 return to campus plan looks very similar to the Fall 2020 one.

The return to campus task force continues to meet every couple of weeks and sub-committees meet more often than that, but the plan is still very fluid.

The task force will be gathering input from students, faculty and staff before releasing the Spring 2021 plan.

As we learn more about COVID-19, MSU continues updating its return to campus plan.

“Part of our spring plans is a reboarding process, so screening students back when they return to campus,” MSU Provost and VP for Academic Affairs Dr. James Johnston said.

The university has been offering classes of course, virtually. This has worked for the most part and will stay, but Johnston said it can also be very difficult.

“What we have found is that’s a very stressful process for our faculty, you’re trying to manage the technology and keep engaged a virtual group and an in-person group and the same for students to remain engaged at the same level,” Johnston said. “So it’s not perfect but it has worked and it’s allowed us to continue.”

Originally, MSU encouraged students to go home to isolate, but that recommendation has since changed and will stick for the spring semester.

“One of the things we’ve learned this fall, give students the option and if they want to isolate on campus, absolutely, because what we don’t want to do is send a student who is positive home to maybe a vulnerable family member,” MSU VP for Student Affairs Dr. Keith Lamb said. “Right now, I believe we have 11 or 12 in those beds, which is the highest count we’ve had all semester.”

Student organization events require a mitigation plan and Lamb said the organizations have been mostly great about that, but that there are some outliers that will need a closer look.

“We want to make sure we tighten up controls a little bit for the spring,” Lamb said. “Making sure that we have a presence at those student organization events, just to make sure that they’re keeping themselves safe.”

These administrators praise the students, faculty and staff for following the safety plan and hope that doesn’t fade once the holidays have come and gone.

The full plan should be released in December.

Students in quarantine at the time of the break will stay until they’re cleared to travel.

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