In stark contrast to the last year of virtual and hybrid classes, most college classes for the Fall Semester will be in person at Winona State University.
Announced Thursday, WSU plans to have 70 percent of classes in person. The other 30 percent of classes will be a combination of online, hybrid, and in the field studies. The plan gives flexibility for possible changes to the learning model based on guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health.
“The connections made, relationships built, and experiences that are had in person are imperative to a student’s college experience,” Denise McDowell, VP of the Office of Enrollment Management and Student Life said. “Winona State University campuses look forward to restoring, reengaging, and reconnecting as a campus community while following state guidance.”
There are several other reasons to plan in person, WSU Provost and VP of Academic Affairs Darrell Newton said.
One reason is it would be challenging for students to move to campus in the middle of the semester if the Fall Semester starts in a virtual manner. With the experiences of this last year in the back pocket, WSU is confident the campus could adjust to hybrid or virtual learning if needed, Newton said.
“We know how to pivot from a planned in-person class to a hybrid or online class,” Newton said.
The other reason for optimism and plans for in-person classes is that vaccines have become more readily available and the criteria for who can get them has expanded. Governor Tim Walz announced this week that the state is weeks ahead of schedule in the goal to have 70 percent of residents 65 years and older vaccinated.
“There are good reasons for hope and optimism about the fall being safer, including statements from well-known epidemiologists,” Newton said.
In the end, any adjustments made in August to what classes will look like will be based on vaccine rates, level of circulating COVID-19 cases, and guidance from MDH.
“The best of what we learned in the past year infused with situational realities, will inform our planning process,” McDowell said. “MDH and local health authorities’ guidance will remain a part of everyday life for years to come.”
Other modifications for how college will look and feel in Fall include more activities and ability for engagement between student clubs and organizations, along with more campus and community amenities.
“We look forward to welcoming students back on campus while also being thoughtful and conscious of state guidance,” McDowell said. “We’re committed to giving students the best experience we can while also protecting our campus and Winona communities at large.”
There’s more support for incoming students now that Winona State University has revamped its recruitment scholarships. With the arrival of the Warrior Way scholarship initiative, an increase to transfer student scholarship amounts, and the creation of an entirely new faculty-led scholarship, Winona State is working to remove barriers and increase support for students.