Learning How to Learn at GSU: Reopening in the Midst of a Pandemic

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GSU’s renovated cafeteria area sits empty as most classes are held remotely. (Photo by Madelynn Prieboy)

Madelynn Prieboy, Editor

GSU’s renovated cafeteria area sits empty as most classes are held remotely. (Photo by Madelynn Prieboy)

 

Students and staff waited anxiously through the late spring and summer for news about how Governors State University’s plans for the Fall semester in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

On July 31, the GSU Registrar sent out the Fall 2020 Operating Plan with a letter from the new college president, Dr. Cheryl Green. On Aug. 26, Admissions emailed students instructions on how to find their courses’ delivery method.  

In her introductory letter Dr. Green said that GSU’s “primary focus will always be how we keep Governors State University safe. While the entire community is invested in the model outlined here, the plan is fluid and may change as the coronavirus pandemic persists.” She also mentioned that the operating plan “allows education to be delivered in a variety of remote and face-to-face formats while we continue providing our students with a quality education.” 

Courses will be delivered as hybrids (where classes are split between meeting virtually or in-person) or completely virtually. For some students, this means that all of their courses are held virtually which can be difficult if they are unable to utilize on campus resources. The COVID-19 operating plan is available on the GSU website to answer questions. 

While students who do not need to be present on campus are encouraged to stay home, they are still able to access student resources such as the Cube, which is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30am to 5:00pm. Drive up Wi-Fi hotspots are available for students who still want to benefit from GSU’s internet access but do not want to come inside. When coming inside the school, there are rules in place for everybody’s safety including wearing a facial covering and maintaining a six-foot distance from other people. GSU has placed hand sanitizer stations at various locations around the school.  

Other facilities will be available exclusively online. The operating plan says that “to accommodate remote learning, most university functions have moved to a virtual environment, including Library research, tutoring and other services offered through the Academic Resources Center and Academic Advising.”  

The newly remodeled GSU Café is open Monday through Friday 10am-2:00pm, but only prepackaged items, deli sandwiches, and pizzas are available for students. Signs at every entrance, in classrooms, and in hallways remind students to follow the school’s COVID-19 requirements.  

However, the Athletics and Recreation Center are closed until further notice.   

For students who do attend in-person classes, the experience is one of care and precaution. Lab/studio courses have limited capacity, and students must work six feet apart from each other. Working on campus requires scheduling a time slot by using SignUpGenius, a digital software used for scheduling and organizing events, to ensure safety and avoid going over capacity. Professors will send links to students weekly so they can sign up for slots. It is important for these students to use their time on campus wisely because on-campus delivery of courses will wrap up before Thanksgiving and courses will finish remotely. 

“Delivering instruction in this new reality has its challenges,” said Dr. Green in her operating plan letter, “but it also has been very rewarding to see members of the Governors State community form stronger alliances as we fight through this adversity. It’s what we do, and it makes me so proud to serve alongside you, witnessing Jaguars on the move!”