Southeastern Oklahoma State University lays out back to school plan

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 11:17 PM CDT
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Southeastern Oklahoma State University will welcome students back to campus in less than two weeks and will be offering a mix of both online and in-person classes for students.

“I think we have a great plan in terms of what we know,” said University President Thomas Newsom.

All summer the university’s COVID-19 task force was meeting twice a week to talk about the logistics of reopening campus for the fall.

They’ve cut class sizes, and limited seating in large classroom spaces to encourage social distancing. Some classes will be taught in a hybrid model, with one day a week of face-to-face instruction and the rest online.

Large spaces, like ballrooms on campus, will be used as classrooms so there’s enough room to social distance.

Masks are encouraged for anyone on campus, but required in classrooms and university buildings.

“It’s going to be different, but I think college is still going to be college. Even with the changes I think we’ll find a way,” said J’Quavia Carr, a senior.

The university bought enough SOSU brand face masks for every student and faculty. Plastic coverings are installed at podiums in speech classes, or other class settings where masks would not be practical.

As for the dorms, it’s one student per room. Extra beds will be set aside for quarantining students on campus if they get sick.

The university will not be taking students’ temperatures, but they will be asking everyone to do a self-assessment of their health every morning.

The school has created an online tool to help guide people through what symptoms to look for.

“That online tool plugs them into the student health center, and health care professionals would do an an evaluation based on the information they give us,” Newsom said.

As for a specific number of positive cases that would shut down the school, they don’t have one set in stone. Newsom says they will keep an eye on things as they progress.

In-person classes will conclude after Thanksgiving break, there will be one final week of online instruction then online final exams will be given the following week.

“Around that time of year we know it’s cold and flu season and that will just exacerbate some of the challenges we’re having with COVID-19,” Newsom said. “We, just like many other universities, think it’s in our best interest to give our students some time away during that period.”

As for athletics, the University and the Great American Conference have delayed the start of the season until Oct. 3 so they have time to make a decision about whether fans will be allowed in stands based on how the universities are handling the virus on campus.

Haley Hostetler is junior cheerleader at SOSU, she said her team has “specific guidelines they have to follow.”

“Always wear a mask, and make sure we’re 12 feet apart because we yell so it prevents the spread from that,” Hostetler said.

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