NSU developing return-to-campus framework

Staff and administrators at Northwestern State University are preparing for the Fall 2020 semester with a focus on safety along with the continuity of learning and research. Classes will be offered through several modalities, including face-to-face, online and in hybrid format with an emphasis on social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Fall classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 17.

“It has been too quiet on our campuses for too long and I can’t wait to welcome our students back to NSU,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “There will be some changes from our conventional operations. Protective masks, hand-sanitizers, deep cleaning of facilities, social distancing and other precautionary protocols will be in place, but interaction and connectivity will again enhance learning and university life.”

Individuals will be required to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth in most buildings, common areas and all classrooms. Outdoor handwashing stations will be placed in high-traffic areas and all individuals on campus are encouraged to utilize them prior to entering buildings. Signs will be posted to advise students on designated traffic flow and use of entrance and exit doors in buildings and stairwells.

“Academic buildings will have designated traffic flow to mitigate cross-exposure and will have designated entrances and exits,” said Dr. Greg Handel, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Physical distancing will be observed in all classrooms and Vic the Demon stickers will indicate at which desks students can sit.”

Clear barriers have been installed in offices and facilities where one-on-one interaction is necessary and extra hand sanitizing stations have been placed throughout the campus. Elevators will be limited to two occupants at a time and individuals should practice social distancing while waiting in lines.

All individuals on campus are encouraged to monitor symptoms and practice responsible respiratory etiquette by covering coughs and sneezes. Students who use computer labs will observe social distancing and sanitize hands before and after using the lab.

Move-In Day logistics will be announced as plans are finalized that will include times, locations and procedures for social distancing. Information will be sent to the email address students have on file on their Housing Application.

All campus dining establishments, including Iberville Dining Hall, Vic’s, Steak ‘n Shake, Café DeMon and Chik-fil-A, will adhere to social distancing rules with designated entrances and exits, tables spaced apart and 50 percent capacity for each facility with floor signs for traffic patterns and welcome stations to explain menus and regulations. Chick-fil-A will continue to offer to-go meals only with no dine-in services. Dining employees will follow strict guidelines regarding sanitation.

Protocols and guidelines for student activities, including Freshman Connection 2.0, Freshman Convocation and Demon Days will be announced as details are finalized. Students should check their email for updates.

Watson Library continues to be available online 24/7. Fall hours are still to be determined. The Academic Success Center will be open, but physical distancing rules will be enforced. Virtual tutoring is encouraged. The Testing Center will be open by appointment to limit the number of students in the Center.

Counseling services are available from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m.-noon Friday. Health Services is open from 8 a.m.-noon Monday-Thursday with a nurse on call from noon-5 p.m. and from 8 a.m.-noon Friday.

The NSU WRAC and Rec Complex golf course are open and patrons are asked to observe hygiene and social distancing protocols. The WRAC is open from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Hours for the NSU Rec Complex are 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Only the golf course is open. The pool and driving range are closed until further notice. Guidelines may be revised in conjunction with state mandates. For more information on the WRAC, call (318) 357-5269. For information on the NSU Rec Complex, call (318) 357-6300.

An August 8 commencement ceremony honoring Spring and Summer 2020 graduates has been cancelled.

“Paramount in our decision was the safety and health of the graduates, their families, faculty and staff members and other guests that would have participated in the programs,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “Even after the in-person program to honor these graduates has been delayed twice now, we still hope to recognize them at a traditional commencement ceremony and will invite them to participate in the university’s next graduation exercises. We hope that will be in December.”

Information regarding Athletics will be announced as it becomes available.

Northwestern State will continue to follow health and safety guidelines issued by the CDC, State of Louisiana, University of Louisiana System, and local authorities.

“A safe return to campus is paramount during these times. Our university administration is ensuring that all of the necessary protocols and polices are put into place to ensure that students can return to campus as safely as possible in the Fall,” said Nick Hopkins, Student Government Association President. “The Student Government Association has plans to help the university achieve this goal. We plan to have a number of protective cloth masks and hand sanitizer to give away to students to ensure that they are doing their part to protect themselves and their fellow students. I am so thankful to be a part of a university that cares so deeply for the safety of its students and I am anxiously awaiting our return in August.”

Information on NSU’s return-to-campus protocols are available at https://www.nsula.edu/return-to-campus/ and will be updated as necessary.