August 25, 2020
Aug. 21 Safe Return news center update
Greetings Faculty and Staff,
Only two weeks now… I’m so grateful for everyone’s efforts to be ready for the start of the academic year in this unique season. Our planning is ongoing, of course, but I already feel that we’ve prepared as well as we can. We can all draw strength from that as we face the challenges that lie ahead. The most important thing we can do is adhere to the Community Pledge and follow our guidelines: wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing and washing hands frequently. A reminder for those new to the College or those recently returning, there is a link to previous College updates (under “recent updates”) and our most current information at CSS/safereturn. We’re in this together!
Lots of news this week!
Saints Kits availability
The Saints Kits, our front-line gear for staying safe, are on their way! Each kit includes a Saints-branded mask, a buff, a 5-oz bottle of hand sanitizer, and a copy of our precious Community Pledge. First-year students will also receive a thermometer. Staff and faculty will receive their kits from VPs and deans of their areas. Duluth campus residential students will receive theirs when they move onto campus; non-residential students can pick up theirs from the Port in the Student Activities office during the first week of classes. At extended sites, either a staff or faculty member has been designated as point person to distribute them. A big thank you to Student Affairs and Marketing staff who assembled the kits, and to Advancement, whose staff are working to underwrite the project financially. If you have questions, contact Kaitie Selleck.
The return-to-campus student survey results have been tabulated. The survey was sent to all students on July 29 and we received 1,107 responses, a rate of 30%. Here are highlights:
- More than half of students agree that they are comfortable returning to campus. A large number are concerned about the virus because they are at-risk themselves or worry about bringing the virus home to an at-risk family member. Students are concerned about other people’s behavior in adhering to the recommended health practices, and about campus opening too soon and then having to close again shortly thereafter.
- There were major trends concerning the need for student support. These revolve around internships and other experiential learning and the potential impacts of any delay, juggling school, work and personal lives, and obtaining needed skills for their future in the workplace.
- A significant number of students expressed concerns surrounding course format and delivery. Some felt all courses should be online; others felt the need for in-person or hybrid options. A significant theme was concern over flexibility and the faculty being understanding. In general, students are worried about their academic success.
- Lastly, a major theme was students’ concern for overall wellness. They stressed the need for mental health, insurance needs, COVID-19 testing, and housing. Reiterated throughout the comments was the need for financial support and concerns about cost issues. Many are concerned about the cost of tuition in the new hybrid model.
These findings have helped us to better understand students’ perspectives surrounding the pandemic. This has helped inform our decisions and direct our efforts to keep everyone as safe as possible. We are very grateful for the strong participation rate!
Student study space
With very few events scheduled on the Duluth campus for fall semester, and the ability to find other locations for those that are, both Benedictine Commons and Somers Lounge will be reserved for physical-distancing study space for students. Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
To protect the health and safety of our campus community, the College is requiring all persons that will be visiting our campus to wear a face covering/mask at all times; maintain proper physical distancing from others (6 feet); maintain proper hand hygiene; and perform a self-health screening prior to coming on campus. Our new required self-health screen questionnaire can be found here.
SUCCESS in STEM
The College has been awarded nearly $1 million to support students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math majors. The five-year grant of $999,995 from the National Science Foundation will create a new program called Scholarships for Undergraduates Committed to Careers and Education in STEM Subjects (SUCCESS). Among other initiatives, SUCCESS will support four-year scholarships for 30 academically talented, Pell-eligible students in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics. An interesting sidelight is that we’re using data analysis to award funding without traditional mechanisms such as essays and applications. This will allow us to remove barriers for students. Congratulations to Lynne Raschke, Principal Investigator, and her colleagues!
We’re getting in GEER
Last Friday we were notified of an award from the Minnesota Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund [GEER]. We are being given nearly $250,000 to provide laptops and internet access for those members of our community with the greatest need. What set our proposal apart was the inclusion not just of hardware, but the creation and dissemination of training for students to ensure they’ll be as successful as possible with this hardware. I am grateful to Janet Rosen for identifying the opportunity and shepherding our proposal.
Fall athletics update
Saints Athletics announced on Aug. 24 that due to the UMAC’s most recent announcements, along with the accessibility and feasibility of testing requirements that coincide with the potential of competing, all CSS fall sports are no longer pursuing outside competition and will focus on development, both on and off the field. The fall teams will look towards a potential UMAC spring season as they hope to compete in UMAC competition one last time before the move to the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) in 2021-22.
Over the summer we have worked closely with embedded sites to ensure we are meeting the needs of our students within the guidelines they have for their campuses. We have had to make some adjustments based on COVID restrictions for classroom availability at Inver Hills Community College. Our Elementary Education and Bachelor in Social Work programs that are located at Inver will have their in-person classes on the St. Paul campus for fall semester. We plan to resume courses on the Inver Hills campus in the spring.
Office procedure changes
Starting this Monday, Aug. 24, the OneStop Student Services Office will be available for in-person appointments with students. The office will continue to offer virtual appointments for students as well. Meanwhile, the Finance Office will continue to operate remotely until further notice.
Stay safe, everyone, and have a great weekend!