Fall 2021 Outlook
Aug. 13, 2021
Throughout the last several months, we have shared with you our plans to launch the fall 2021 semester under near-normal conditions. Many students have asked what “near-normal” means in practical terms. Would we have face-to-face classes? Would we require vaccines? What about face coverings? One immutable truth has emerged since the pandemic became a reality – plans must be dynamic to account for the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape. The Fall 2021 Outlook is bright but will undoubtedly be challenging. We continue to track regional, state, and national data and, based on the best scientific information we have, the following guidance is provided:
Classes and Instruction
We will start and plan to continue with face-to-face classes this fall, adhering to a normal academic calendar in terms of breaks and finals, etc. As has been the case for many years, LC State does and will continue to offer online and hybrid courses. Additionally, instructors are prepared to use technologies acquired and practiced last year to make it possible for individuals to keep up with classes if, because of a COVID-19 infection or close contact, they need to temporarily make use of remote instruction.
Based on the current COVID-19 data, the projected rise in cases over the next several weeks and the need to allow time to onboard students, faculty and staff into our weekly surveillance testing strategy, LC State will begin the semester by requiring people to wear face coverings when indoors. This will begin on Monday, Aug. 16, and will continue at least until Friday, Sept. 17. Assuming our on-campus and community COVID-19 cases are reasonably low (we will be able to determine this from surveillance testing), we anticipate we will be able to suspend the universal indoor face covering requirement the following week. However, should it become necessary, we have a plan to reinstitute face covering requirements in stages. Our updated Operational Levels Matrix outlines these stages.
COVID-19 Screening – Weekly Surveillance Testing Strategy
As we launch the fall semester, we will have weekly COVID-19 screening for our students, faculty, and staff. Here’s how weekly testing will work: Test kits (VAULT testing kits) supplied by the State of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will be distributed to students and employees (at no cost to them) beginning the week of Aug. 23; with surveillance testing continuing throughout at least the first 4-6 weeks of the semester. These quick and easy saliva tests can be self-administered with the results reported to the individual and Idaho Public Health.
Those who have been fully vaccinated or infected in the last 60 days will be able to opt-out of testing, if they so choose, by providing verification. Dual credit students and others who are not taking live or hybrid classes on campus or in Coeur d’Alene, people who have religious or medical exemptions, and people who have had their first vaccination dose within three weeks of the testing date will also be able to opt out.
The college is NOT requiring students to be vaccinated as a condition of enrollment, participating in campus events, or receiving services. However, in some instances, internship or clinical sites may require vaccinations. However, students (as well as college employees) are STRONGLY encouraged to get vaccinated. The campus vaccination rate is a key statistic that will be included in the assessment of the COVID-19 risk levels. To assist those who have not been vaccinated, the college has partnered with Idaho Public Health – North Central District and the local CHAS clinic to offer on-campus vaccination clinics. The full schedule can be found on our Coronavirus Resource Page. Vaccines are offered at no cost.
As a further incentive, students who provide proof of vaccination (no later than Oct. 1, 2021) will have $100 “Warrior Bucks” loaded onto their Warrior ID cards and will be entered into a drawing to receive one of two in-state tuition scholarships awarded for the spring semester.
The college will offer several face-to-face, in-person events and activities along with a number of virtual programs. Having several ways to offer these services will enable more students to participate. Plug in to these events and stay updated on opportunities throughout the semester by downloading the DoMore app and following the event calendar.
We’ve heard our students who, in vast numbers, challenged us to find ways to continue offering face-to-face classes and even expand the number of them. We want our campus to continue to be a safe, welcoming place for people to explore and realize their potential. We’ll get through the pandemic and together we can take steps to keep ourselves safe and future focused.