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Lindenwood to open Aug. 24 for in-person classes

Lindenwood’s J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts [John Tremmel photo]

Lindenwood University currently plans to open its campus, academic buildings and residence halls for students and faculty as previously planned, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matching the originally planned academic calendar, fall classes are scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 24.  After the Thanksgiving break, Nov. 25 – 27, classes are scheduled to end on Friday, Dec. 11, including having finals during the week of Dec. 7-11. After the 2020 year-end break, 2021 classes are scheduled to begin on Monday, Jan. 11.

Lindenwood President Dr. John R. Porter plans to release the final plan for the 2020-21 school year on July 6.

During the 193 years since its founding in 1827, Lindenwood University has endured many challenges, including the Civil War, World War I, 1918-20 Spanish Flu pandemic, Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2008-2009. The current COVID-19 pandemic ranks high on the list of challenges, especially since there currently is no playbook for what to do.  The playbook is being invented, written and revised every day, week and month as the situation continues to change and evolve. It must be used to protect approximately 8,600 students.

COVID-19 has caused 470,000 deaths worldwide so far. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.4 million cases have been reported to date in the U.S., with 124,325 deaths as of June 26. The pandemic has caused widespread shut-downs, economic turmoil and loss of income for multitudes of families.

During spring break on March 11, 2020, the university announced the discontinuance of in-person classes and the immediate move to online “virtual” classes intended to last until March 30. On March 16, the university announced that all classes would remain online for the rest of the semester, giving students six days to vacate the residence halls and campus by March 22.

Since then, a Pandemic Preparedness Team (PPT) has been meeting twice each week to discuss and plan what to do at Lindenwood. They have been following guidelines from the CDC as those have evolved. In addition to monitoring closely what other colleges and universities are doing, the PPT also has been obtaining advice from the Missouri Department of Health, the St. Charles County Health Department, Washington University Medical School, and Saint Louis University Medical School.

On June 26, Mark Arant, Ph.D., Lindenwood provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, provided insights about how the university is preparing for Aug. 24 and beyond. He clarified that “Lindenwood has been in regular contact with students, families and faculty through a series of virtual town halls and emails.”

He said during the town halls, students, families and faculty have been encouraged to ask questions so that planning for the fall includes the needs and views of all stakeholders.

Arant explained the importance of the PPT. They have been and still are defining and refining protocols for in-person classes and activities, training, communications, testing and tracing, deep cleaning and how to encourage accountability for safety precautions. He said the PPT “is examining and learning from actual experience during spring semester virtual classes, what worked well and what didn’t.” He also said that for the fall semester plan, “professors and instructors are preparing lesson plans that can be delivered well in person and also online. Then, if the switch must be made, they will be ready.”

“The communications plan includes flyers, learning sheets, information on TV screens around the campus, and videos,” Arant said.  He acknowledged the challenge of “having 18- to 24-year-old students who have had their first taste of freedom from most supervision, and now asking them to follow strict pandemic protocols. How do we police that? Can we?”

On May 6, Porter announced that tuition, room and board would not be increased for 2020-21. Asked about the potential for changes in costs, Arant said, “There is no other decision yet. It will depend on the final plan, how the pandemic evolves, how much classwork actually will be in person and how much will need to be online. We still are looking at every angle to be reasonable with our tuition versus our projected expenses, and what is fair for students and families.”

In closing, Arant said “Lindenwood is using international, national and local experience and expertise to ensure as safe and effective learning environment as possible. We intend to ensure the safety of all students, faculty and university employees; the safety of everybody.”

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