Westminster Anticipates In-Person Classes and Activities for Fall 2021 While Following COVID-19 Protocols
As officials at Westminster College wrap up a memorable in-person academic year, they anticipate the fall semester will also run smoothly, with students physically attending classes and participating in activities while taking necessary COVID-19 precautions.
Dr. Kasi Lacey, Vice President and Dean of Student Life, says Westminster is finishing the year on a positive note as a result of protocols put into place last summer after the College decided to return to in-person classes.
“I am incredibly proud of our Westminster College students, staff, and faculty in relation to our response to COVID-19,” Lacey says. “We were able to offer a quality in-person experience, with health and safety at the forefront of our decisions.”
Protocols met or exceeded guidelines put into place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which included campus-wide mask-wearing mandates, hand-sanitizing stations throughout all buildings, and Plexiglass shields at high-traffic workstations, among other measures.
Painstaking efforts were made to ensure 6 feet of social distancing throughout all classrooms, which meant reducing classroom capacities. As a result, additional sections of more populated classes were added to the course roster.
Additionally, faculty and students with health concerns had the option of virtually participating in courses taking place in 18 classrooms newly outfitted with Zoom technology.
As the year progressed, the number of students who petitioned to take classes virtually dwindled from 50 in the fall to 15 in the spring.
Officials say the College has not determined yet if virtual or hybrid options will be available for Fall Semester 2021, but the technology will remain in place in case a pivot to alternative teaching methods becomes necessary.
Overall, flexibility has been key to managing the pandemic year at Westminster.
Case in point: Approximately 50 percent of Westminster students are involved in Division III sports, and all DIII conference games were postponed to spring. The result was a carefully orchestrated, never-before-seen packed schedule managed by the Department of Athletics and communicated to the campus community, who accommodated the students’ unusual schedules.
“It has been a very arduous process,” says Matthew Mitchell, Director of the Department of Athletics. “But as we drew closer to competition this spring, the excitement level increased. The job that our conference institutions, administrators, athletic trainers, and coaches have done to pull this off has been nothing short of remarkable.”
In preparing for the fall semester, the College recommends everyone on campus receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which Westminster offered exclusively to students, faculty, and staff on April 12. Second doses will be given on May 3.
Lacey reflects, “We have taken a proactive step in working with our local health department in receiving the vaccine, which is a positive step to increasing the overall safety of everyone on campus.”