Union College prepares to welcome students back to campus

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 5:26 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2020 at 7:30 PM EDT
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BARBOURVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - As the start of the semester is less than three weeks away at Union College, officials with the college are announcing their reopening plan.

Students will have to add a few more things to their back to school checklists. One of those things being a COVID-19 test.

“If they don’t have that, we’ll ask them to test with one of our local partners and we’ll await a result before we allow them to move on to campus,” said Brian Strunk, vice president of Advancement and Communications.

Students are required to email their negative COVID-19 test results to the Dean of Students. The result must be dated no more than seven days prior to coming on campus.

If a student does test positive while on campus, they have set aside a few rooms for isolation.

“We have a plan in place to logistically deliver items to the student in safe manner with a leave it at the doorstep knock and stand away while they pick up their meals,” said Strunk.

Everyone on campus will also be required to wear a mask at all times. Masks are only not required in individual dorm rooms or private offices.

“You can be subject to disciplinary sanction for failing to comply with the mask guidance,” said Strunk.

Students will also have to complete a daily health screening using the LiveSafe app. They will record their temperature and answer a few questions.

Spaces to congregate will also be limited in order to keep social distancing a priority.

“I know it’s going to be a different semester and probably not one that anyone wanted but it’s the safest way we can still deliver the most important piece which is education,” said Strunk. “The added benefits of going to college, the social pieces they’re going to suffer a little bit this semester but if we can all work together hopefully by the spring everything will be more normal.”

Classes will also be offered in-person and online. Classes online will be live, so students will have to log in during their class time.

“It’s not like the traditional online experience where you know you just log in once a week and do all your homework at once, this is like going to class but from home,” said Strunk.

Classes in person will be similar to what local schools are doing. They will be a hybrid.

“Half is the class will come one day the other half will come the second day but everyone will watch it live remote if they’re not in attendance,” Strunk said.

There are changes to the academic calendar. Classes will begin August 19 and end December 3. However, there will be no Fall break and students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving break. The final week of classes will be virtual.

“We were worried about the thought of someone going home for Thanksgiving, and then bringing it back in the middle of final exam week when everyone is already under pressure having to study and now we’ve had a potential COVID outbreak on campus,” said Strunk.

Senior Sloane Smith says while the semester may be different, it is worth the sacrifice.

“If it’s gonna benefit the health of people around me and just be able to have the opportunity to be here then I’m glad to do that anytime,” said Smith.

She said learning to adapt is important during these difficult times.

“That’s one thing that we’re going to have to face for the rest of our lives is learning how are we going to roll with the punches, how are we going to just fit around this situation, how can we control what we can control?” said Smith.

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