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Franklin College announces more changes to campus life for potential return in fall

Plans for in-person instruction move forward, but with new look for classes and dining


By Taylor Wooten

Taylor.Wooten@franklincollege.edu

Franklin College President Kerry Prather shared in an email to the campus community Friday new changes that are anticipated for campus life in fall 2020, a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This email, combined with other messages released by the college in recent weeks, continues to emphasize that Franklin College is striving to be on campus in the fall — though those plans are subject to change based on guidance from local and state health officials.

Listed below are new changes announced by Prather in the latest message to campus.

Mitigation Strategies

Individuals will be asked to assess their health on a daily basis, report symptoms and limit contact with others if symptomatic to any degree. There will also be required training sessions for students, faculty and staff on self-assessment proper reporting and self-isolation procedures. Visitor access to Franklin College facilities will be restricted

While the exact restrictions and requirements to be imposed remain unclear, Prather said some strategies that are recommendations or suggestions in one setting may be required in another. An example of one of these strategies may be wearing a mask or practicing social distancing.

Residential Living

Students who have a medical condition specified in a list by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that increases chances of a severe case of COVID-19 and who wish to remain on campus may request a room without a roommate. These requests will be managed through a form on the Housing Self-Service Portal and are due by July 1 at 4 p.m. Medical documentation is required with these requests to evaluate student needs based and to meet requests as space allows.

Shared spaces like elevators, lounges, work rooms and restrooms have posted capacities and students will be reminded of proper cleanliness habits in residence halls and common bathrooms. Masks will be available in spaces when distancing is not possible or is compromised. The campus has been equipped with adequate resources for disinfecting of shared spaces and cleanliness is a greater priority of the staff.

Some residential spaces have been taken off-line in order to serve as segregated spaces for quarantine, but only as needed. A quarantine protocol has been developed as well as a partnership with Johnson Memorial Health and other community partners to offer free COVID-19 testing. But the details of how these processes will occur have yet to be announced by the college.

Classes

Large classes will be broken down into smaller sections. Richardson Chapel, the Branigin Room, Custer Theatre and the gymnasium in Spurlock Center are among spaces that are not traditionally used as classroom spaces but are being considered to help meet social distancing guidelines.

This may cause the typical school day to become extended to allow for the use of these few sizable spaces, Prather said in Friday’s email. Masks will be available at all classrooms. A faculty survey is being used to develop safe classroom spaces and refine academic policies, and these guidelines will be shared with the faculty once the surveys are complete.

The college has yet to confirm if some or all classes will move to remote learning.

Dining

Parkhurst, the college’s dining service, has established new protocols and guidelines for food preparation and distribution. The company is also developing alternative services, such as take-out options. The college is creating additional dining areas, including outdoors as weather allows. Visitors will temporarily be restricted from access to the student dining room.

Fall Sports

The college is working with other members of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and following guidance from the NCAA and athletic training staff to develop safe protocols for athletic practices, meetings, travel and contests.

The HCAC is providing updates to the public in regular 15-day intervals leading up to the start of the fall season. The last update, released on June 11, expresses optimism towards the NCAA DIII decision to allow practices to start on Aug. 10.

Plans are subject to change if the number of cases in Johnson County spike.

“Fortunately, the dynamics of the illness (e.g., positive cases as a percentage of individuals tested, hospitalizations, deaths) continue to trend in the right direction within the Johnson County area,” Prather said in the email. “We certainly hope that good news continues throughout the summer.”

According to the Indiana State Department of Health website, COVID-19 deaths in Johnson Country peaked between April 20 and April 25, during which there were 24 deaths in total. The last reported death was on June 15. There have been 1185 cases of COVID-19 in Johnson County.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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