The COVID-19 pandemic is filled with unknowns, but local universities are planning for the fall in the safest way possible.
For La Crosse’s Western Technical College any class that can successfully be taught online will be.
“For the things that cannot be taught online, such as nursing labs or welding labs, carpentry, anything that’s truly hands on, we will be bringing students back with a maximum of nine students in a lab with one instructor,” said Kat Linaker, Western vice president of academic affairs.
For those students on-campus social distancing, wearing PPE, and daily screenings will all be required.
At UW-La Crosse, leaders are looking to make some classes an in-person/online hybrid.
All classes in-person will have no more than 50 people with face masks and social distancing being implemented.
Additionally, residence halls will be open at normal capacity.
“The challenge is going to be that our residence halls have shared bathrooms and showers, so we’re going to need to clean those a lot more than we normally do,” said Chancellor Joe Gow of UWL.
Western says all universities in La Crosse have shared ideas for reopening and the presidents are in communication to see what works for each individual school.
Along with new guidelines, schools are also developing new policies so that students or faculty that get sick this fall won’t be academically punished.
“There will be a way for the student, depending on how ill they are, to take an incomplete or withdraw without penalty or have extensions on assignments,” Linaker said.
“We obviously want people to be very careful, so if they’re not feeling well don’t come to class, stay in your room, get tested,” Gow explained. “Our teachers are going to take into account this is an unusual time.”
Both schools say when it comes to the fall, they are planning for the worst, but hoping for the best as far as the severity of COVID in La Crosse County.
“We told all our faculty be sure that your classes are designed in a way that if you have to, and that’s a have to, you can take them to a distance format pretty quickly as we did last semester,” Gow said.
Western says if COVID is less of a risk in September it could increase class capacity.
Viterbo University is set to release its fall plan no later than July 1.