Colleges keep going strong during coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Education leaders said even with challenges colleges are continuing to operate during coronavirus.

The Legislative Budget Committee heard from a number of school leaders from state universities and colleges on Thursday.

Colleges around the state are seeing mixed results with the spread of coronavirus in their community. But school leaders are confident that teaching can continue.

“We think we’ve learned how to be safe in this pandemic and learned how to do some things that we didn’t feel comfortable doing last March, said Kansas State University President Richard Myers.

He said if things change, there is a plan in place.

“Even if we were to change the teaching modalities, we would not shut the university down, as we did,” Myers said. “There would be some things shut down that are currently open, but the university as a whole, a lot of the colleges and the buildings would be open to those who need access.”

At Emporia State, officials have been learning best teaching practices for months.

“Over the summer we actually had a number of face-to-face classes so that we could be sure that what we would do in the fall would be procedurally an approach to classes, an approach to learning that would diminish the chances of transmission,” ESU President Allison Garrett said.

Garrett highlights the wearing of masks and social distancing in classrooms.

Both schools are testing students now but have long term plans going forward.

“We have plans to do broad-spread surveillance testing at four points throughout the semester, and at each instance that will be a randomized sample and will be several hundred students,” Garrett said.

She said the first will take place in mid-September.

At K-State, Myers wants to make sure people that work and live close in close quarters are protected.

“To do surveillance testing of those areas where we have a lot of people working closely together because of the nature of their work, laboratories or whatever, and also in our residence halls. We’re going to do surveillance testing in those areas, has to be voluntary, but we’ll do that testing to see if we can catch any potential hot spots before they actually develop,” Myers said.

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