SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — At first glance, Augustana University in Sioux Falls looks just like any other college campus ahead of the first day of class. 2020’s global COVID-19 pandemic has changed this.
“We have painstakingly gone through each and every classroom at Augustana,” said Joni Krueger, registrar and associate dean for interdisciplinary programs. “Most rooms, the capacity is about half of what it would have been in March when students were here last. And so this room, for example, there’s tables, and normally there would be two chairs per table, and now we have one, plus some space between the tables.”
Even with changes inside the classroom, she has a clear message: if you don’t feel healthy, stay home.
“We also, though, are strongly encouraging and basically mandating our students, if you are not feeling well, if you have a fever, if you have a cough, your job is to stay home or stay in your room and watch your class online,” Krueger said. “We have set up all of our rooms with technology so that students can Zoom in any day that they’re not feeling well.”
You have to wear a mask if you’re in a public space that’s indoors like a classroom or hallway. But not all classes need to be inside.
“I think my colleagues and I, every chance we get, we’re going to be out here in this classroom or in some of the other outdoor spaces that we’ve set up for teaching outside,” Augustana University professor David O’Hara said.
Of course, there is only so much faculty and staff can control.
“We are assuming, we are planning for the fact that we will have students that will get COVID,” Krueger said. “It’s just the reality of where we’re living and how we’re living. And so what happens when a student is testing positive for COVID, is we have to do contract tracing.”
“I’m not worried about my students getting sick while they’re on campus; I’m worried about what they’re doing when they’re not on campus,” Augustana University professor Paul Egland said. “But everything, Augustana’s done everything we possibly can to ensure that the students will be safe while they’re here.”
Augustana’s first day of class is August 26.