In less than ten days, Northland College will begin welcoming students back to the Bay area in accordance with a phased return-to-campus schedule. During the past several months, College leadership and I have been developing and processing guidelines to monitor and contain the spread of COVID-19 and sustain a safe living and learning environment as the academic year approaches.
Despite calculated risks and in keeping with the overwhelming aspirations of our students, college and board leadership have agreed to endorse in-person instruction in the coming academic year. However, most courses will be taught with online components, so that students can maintain their class requirements remotely if the need arises.
The protocols that follow govern face coverings, testing, and isolation or quarantine spaces, and include modified plans for fall athletic competitions.
Conforming to the most recent state and county health recommendations, Northland College will require face coverings for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors in campus buildings, in campus vehicles, or in open-air venues in which distancing is not feasible.
Moreover, students, faculty, and staff will be required to undergo testing at the beginning of the fall and winter terms and as required or needed thereafter. Northland College health services will conduct nasal swab testing during move-in for on-campus residents or when off-campus students, faculty, and staff return to campus. As a rule, samples will be procured on-site and antigen test results provided within thirty minutes.
As required, test results must be reported to the State of Wisconsin Department of Health. In the event of positive results, Ashland County Public Health, collaborating with Northland College health services, will undertake contact tracing protocols and inform those potentially impacted by the spread of the virus.
Isolation and quarantine spaces have been reserved for residential students. In the event of exposure or infection, residential students will be given instructions from the Office of Health Services regarding proper isolation or quarantine procedures.
Off-campus residents will isolate or quarantine at home.
In addition to the existing campus safety protocols, the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted last week to modify the 2020 schedule for fall volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer. Per directive, fall competitions for the teams impacted have been postponed and opportunities will be pursued for conference competitions in the spring of 2021.
To sustain the training objectives of our fall athletes, UMAC schools have been given autonomy to schedule non-conference games, if safety and health protocols with partner institutions are upheld and travel arrangements abide by existing risk management provisions.
As low contact sports, men’s and women’s golf and cross country will continue to compete this fall, and conference championships will be conducted as previously scheduled. Cross country events have been aligned with social distancing requirements and must also comply with sundry health precautions proposed by regional health authorities.
It is my firm belief that these measures will minimize, but not eliminate, Northland’s risk in the coming academic year, and in tandem with my leadership team, I will do what is necessary to provide for a COVID-safe living and learning environment in the months to come.
Karl Ivan Solibakke is the president of Northland College. For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional campus communications and our reopening plan can be found at northland.edu/reopening-plan