August 14 will be a joyful day as we celebrate commencement ceremonies for the spring 2020 graduates whose end-of-college days were dramatically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It promises to be a grand social distancing event for our campus and community, not only because it’s a major life milestone for these graduates, but because it heralds our “Bring Huskies Home” fall semester. It is a time when we welcome new and returning students, faculty and staff back to campus and our safety-conscious community to learn, live, teach and protect each other.
We will launch this fall with extraordinary care and caution for the safety and health of our students, faculty and staff as well as our St. Cloud neighbors. Issues and circumstances brought on by the pandemic promise to have a continuing impact on us all, and we are responding with new options, new directions and new ways to help our students achieve their educational goals.
It’s been a summer like no other as faculty and staff – many working from home – applied extraordinary efforts to create a healthy, safe environment and offer innovative options for delivering a high quality education when students return to classes in person or online on Aug. 24.
With the help of the broader community, we will do all we can to ensure our students are comfortable, safe and responsible for those around them, on and off campus.
We appreciate that we are welcoming each other back to our Central Minnesota community that joins us in following best practices for a safe, healthy place to live and study.
We know there are many Huskies alumni out there wearing masks and social distancing as they lead our local government (thanks, Mayor Dave Kleis, class of ’89!) and continue doing great work in our schools, medical facilities, businesses and organizations in this challenging era. We really are all in this together!
We also appreciate the assurance our local folks have demonstrated that St. Cloud continues to be a safe community in which to learn and live. And we are taking actions as a university to help ensure we will do our part to be strong partners in these endeavors.
To address the inevitable challenges COVID-19 has brought to the Huskies community, all our offices and departments have developed action plans to provide a clean, sanitized and safe campus for campus community and visitors to teach, learn, live and gather. We care about each other and encourage shared responsibility for adherence to state and federal guidelines.
Maintaining the health and safety of the campus community is critical to St. Cloud State’s welcome-back plans. When on campus, all individuals will be required to follow basic personal health practices outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota State system office and other leaders.
They include wearing a cloth face covering, maintaining social distancing, washing hands or using hand sanitizer. We will provide sanitizer dispensers at key entrances to campus buildings and at customer service counters.
Residence halls will welcome students back with Drop-and-Go options to reduce the number of campus visitors. Students will live in single-user rooms and participate in Husky Packs, where they will share activities and responsibility for each other in a clean, safe environment with new guidelines for social distancing, and staggered use of restrooms.
University maintenance personnel trained in use of cleaning and sanitation processes and products are following special cleaning processes in classrooms, common use areas, restrooms, customer service areas and gathering spaces, with specialized disinfecting in areas such as the Campus Medical Clinic and food preparation and dining areas.
As for our plans for academic offerings, many students told us they wanted a “real” college experience with in-person classes and an active campus life. Others expressed they liked the flexibility and freedom of online classes and innovative options.
Through this unique time, our faculty and staff are demonstrating laudable flexibility and regard for helping students transition to alternative ways of teaching and learning. Our professors have embraced the challenges and opportunities of our new realities, and they have done it by listening to and considering the varied needs of their students, responding with creative and flexible course offerings.
We all realize the unpredictability of the COVID-19 virus and the possibilities for more changes in our future, but for now we are eagerly planning and awaiting the return to a bustling campus filled with happy, healthy Huskies.
Thank you, St. Cloud, for being the vibrant, caring, safe community you continue to be!