We’re back; GSU reopens to in-person classes, but with health guides in place

GSU+is+open+again.

Randy Weissman

GSU is open again.

Jazmine Grisby, Phoenix Staff writer

As students and faculty returned to in-person learning for the fall term, everyone is facing numerous questions and concerns about class schedules and logistics.  

Almost all classes had been online since the beginning of the COVID crisis, so class schedules could be a major hurdle: Will it be online, hybrid, or in-person? What time? Where? Those challenges may be a major stress factor for students returning to their studies this fall.  

Well, rest easy, fellow students, the staff of the Phoenix are here to help guide you to those very answers.  

Preparations for fall courses began earlier this year. Dr. Collen Sexton, the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, explained what went into these preparations and some of what students can expect this school year.  

“The challenge with the planning during COVID times is that course schedules are posted and students begin registering for classes as early as March,” she said. The challenge comes from there being over 1,000 courses scheduled for the fall and with the idea that Phase 5 of the COVID plan for Illinois was going to be set in place. 

 By following the guidelines set by the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health, decisions for course delivery were made, and programs were given the OK to go about their normal schedules post COVID. 

Dr. Sexton explained, “By May of 2021, we were closely examining the 1,262 courses scheduled for fall, asking programs to prioritize course delivery mode so that we could all safely return to campus.”  

These guidelines included such things as course modality being dependent upon approval, which Dr. Sexton explains as “only courses who have an approved syllabus for online or hybrid delivery could be delivered online this fall.” 

Dr. Sexton said that work is being done with the help of department chairs and faculty to better fulfill the needs of students by making some sections of courses available both in-person and remotely, if possible.  

Another part of these guidelines included the accommodation of social distancing inside of classrooms. As enrollment numbers continue to rise, and 56% of the courses enrolled are being held in-person, courses have been moved to bigger rooms in order to maintain the social distancing capacity.  

Dr. Sexton and her office have been working hard to follow the social distancing guidelines since the summer. 

“We worked to stay ahead of enrollment projections, by assigning the classes to classrooms that had a social distancing capacity above the course cap,” she explained. “As needed, we moved courses to bigger rooms. Have we been able to place all courses in rooms where social distancing can be maintained? I can say that for 96% of them that is the case.”  

Such efforts continue as Dr. Sexton and her office anticipate an increasing number of student enrollments over the next couple of weeks, which would necessitate adjusting classroom assignments to accommodate social distancing practices where possible. 

Dr. Sexton stressed that everyone at GSU places the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff at the top of their list of goals.