Forward Falcons: Virtual Town Hall recap

Virtual Town Hall Aug. 17 addresses COVID-19 updates for fall semester

By Andrew Addessi ‘20

In a virtual Town Hall Aug. 17, Bowling Green State University President Rodney K. Rogers led a discussion to share information and answer questions about the fall semester and the University's response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

This fall will feature flexible course delivery, virtual resources and new and enhanced health and safety measures. Courses will be offered in-person/hybrid, remote and online. Approximately 30% of students will be taking courses entirely online, reducing the number of people on campus and de-densifying residence halls and community spaces to allow for physical distancing.

Design My BGSU

Over the summer, BGSU introduced Design My BGSU, an initiative in response to student feedback that features flexible course delivery. Through Design My BGSU, students have been able to work with academic advisors to help choose how they wish to learn.

The three modes that classes will be presented in for the upcoming semester are:

  • Online, which features a fully online learning experience where students complete the course material at their own pace;
  • Remote, where students meet with faculty members and classmates using video conferencing in real-time;
  • In-person/Hybrid, which is a combination of both online and in-person class instruction with capacities adjusted for social distancing.

BGSU will utilize BGSU Sync, an enhanced technology tool in specialized classrooms that will allow for real-time interaction between students and faculty physically in the classroom, with students learning virtually.

As virtual, classroom-based learning will be a prominent feature of BGSU's fall semester, so will virtual experiential learning. Throughout the spring and summer, college deans and department chairs worked closely with students and employers to create alternative internship opportunities, including the increasingly common virtual internship which allowed students to gain real-world skills without physically going to a site.

Campus Life

With the new protective protocols in place, life on campus will feature new and enhanced safety protocols.

Laundry rooms, computer labs and lounges will be open, but with reduced capacities to allow for physical distancing. Dining halls will also be in operation but are no longer self-serve and many tables have been removed to avoid crowding.

Students who were able to make alternative living arrangements to de-densify campus will have the same on-campus resources, including labs, lounges and the University Libraries, which will be available to both on- and off-campus students. The Learning Commons will also be operating and available for students through in-person and virtual tutoring.

Student organizations will continue to meet, but will make adjustments to adhere to health and safety guidelines by meeting virtually or in smaller groups. There will also be an approval process for organizing small-scale events.

New Health Protocols

BGSU Chief Health Officer Ben Batey, MPH, RN, addressed COVID-19 health guidelines, including testing and isolation.

In addition to masks and enhanced cleaning between classes, the campus community will be asked to conduct a self-wellness check and will introduce a reminder system to help the campus community remember to screen for any symptoms before leaving for the day.

The Falcon Health Center will be doing tele-health visits, which will allow for quicker check-ins to determine if COVID-19 testing is needed. These virtual visits will also reduce traffic in the medical facility and will help get those who need to be in isolation as quick as possible.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, the student can either return to their permanent home or temporarily move to an isolation space at a designated apartment complex owned by the University. Food will be delivered to individuals and they will receive regular physical and mental health check-ins.

The Counseling Center will also offer tele-mental health visits.

Batey said the University is prepared should there be a spike in cases and will assess the situation for the campus and community.

Should there be an increase of cases in a residence hall, quickly testing all residents to stop the spread would be crucial.