Albion College prepares to welcome students back to campus

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 9:38 AM EDT
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ALBION, Mich. (WILX) -In this edition of ‘Schools Rule,’ WILX News 10 is looking into how some colleges are planning to open their campuses to students.

Several universities have had to send students home because of coronavirus outbreaks on campus, including Michigan State University and Notre Dame.

Albion College is welcoming students back for their classes that start on August 24.

At least 3/4 of students are back on campus and have been tested for coronavirus and Albion College has a plan in place to keep students safe and healthy. Albion says student response to the plan has been positive.

“I’m definitely a mixed bag of emotions,” said Jordan Ravanagh. Ravanagh is an English and Psychology major going into her senior year and says preparing for the 2020-2021 school year has been unique.

“I have the normal ‘return to campus jitters,’ but I’m relieved Albion’s plan calls for in-person learning. Albion’s classes are very unique and they work best in person because of all the connections you can make with students, we have small class sizes to begin with and our classes are mainly discussion based,” continued Ravanagh. “That’s not something i want to lose, going into my senior year especially.”

"I've been excited all along to come back to campus just because being on campus physically, it's a different learning environment," said Anna Crysler, who is going into her junior year. "I feel a lot more motivated and inspired to keep going and moving forward and get excited about my future so I'm just really happy to be back and do what I need to do because I know that's what's going to keep everyone safe."

Crysler is a contact tracer for Albion College. She will be in charge of contacting a student if they have tested positive for coronavirus and getting in touch with others the student may have come in contact with.

“They broke it down really well, you contact the person, you introduce yourself, so it’s through phone call,” explained Crysler. “You tell them what’s up with the virus and what it means to be positive and any close contacts they’ve had and you reach out to those contacts.”

"Our plan really is three pieces," explained Dr. Mathew Johnson, President of Albion College. "The first is an educational approach where we've really been educating our students, faculty and staff about the public health needs that we all have. The second element is about environmental adaptation, we've changed our classrooms, changed our campus in a variety of ways and the third element of our plan is through testing and population health monitoring."

Dr. Johnson was appointed as Albion’s President in July 2020. He says 95 percent of students want the in-person plan as opposed to online learning.

He says Albion has a plan for if a student tests positive for coronavirus.

"We have the ability to identify rapidly the individuals who have had close contact with them. As you know, the CDC defines close contact as within six feet for 15 minutes or more," said Dr. Johnson. "Once we identify those individuals we notify them and we have them either stay off campus if they are a staff or faculty member for 14 days and self-quarantine. If they're a student on campus we work with that student to go into a quarantine status which allows them to stay in the class, stay active, but not attend the class physically.

All of our classes have an ability for a student to stay current in the class without falling behind. Once they're through that 14 day quarantine period they're fully reintroduced back into the population."

Albion has special quarantine dorms and 1500 undergrad students. Dr. Johnson says the smaller number of students is an advantage for Albion because instead of having to send students home like larger universities have, they will be better able to handle the student population.

"Our hope is to stay on campus the entire semester and that is why we have such a comprehensive approach," said Dr. Johnson.

Albion College will switch to a full online learning plan if need be and in-person classes will end by Thanksgiving break.

Copyright 2020 WILX. All rights reserved.

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