Northwood University Announces Back to School Protocols

Northwood University released the following on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020:

MIDLAND, MI – Northwood University will welcome students, faculty, and staff back to campus this fall with classes beginning Monday, August 24th. To ensure a safe return, the University provided a comprehensive “Return to Campus Fall 2020” playbook to students that provides guidelines for safe operations. Among these are instructions to monitor symptoms two weeks before coming to campus, expectations for using personal protective equipment, and preparation for a different campus experience.

The comprehensive student playbook includes guidance and expectations about health and safety, academic, classroom, residence and dining services, visitor, athletics, and positive COVID-19 case protocols. Prior to returning to campus, the University is asking all students to monitor symptoms for 14 days but is not requiring students to get tested for COVID-19.

“This year may not look or feel like any other, but we are confident that Northwood attracts students with an innate sense of responsibility and empathy,” said Andy Cripe, Dean of Student Affairs. “Northwood is unique in that taking care of ourselves and others are values we practice on any given day and not simply because of our exceptional circumstances.”

Once the 2020-2021 academic year begins, students are required to submit a daily health screening questionnaire, wear facial coverings, maintain six feet of distance between others, and take special precautions by cleaning their learning and living environments. All students will be provided with a limited supply of personal protection equipment (PPE), and residential students will receive cleaning supplies.

A restructured class schedule offers traditional 16-week courses and condensed eight-week courses that combine face-to-face and remote instruction. Classroom capacity will be at 50 percent, and every classroom is outfitted with the necessary technology to provide live streaming of lectures. Adult Degree Program courses that were held at remote sites will be held online, and the DeVos Graduate School of Management courses held on-campus will follow the same protocols as the traditional undergraduate program as well as offer online course delivery.

In terms of housing, all residential students will have single occupancy and may share a bathroom with no more than one other student. They will be expected to clean and sanitize their bathroom and bedroom areas more frequently, and they will be limited to one guest at a time.

Dining services also have significant changes. Prior to entering any dining facility, diners will have their temperature taken. They can also expect to receive their food in carry-out containers and individually wrapped. A limited amount of guests will be allowed in the dining areas at one time and all seats, tables, service surfaces, and customer contact surfaces will be sanitized frequently.

As part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Northwood will follow the return-to-sport guidelines published by the NCAA Sport Science Institute for all athletic activity.

In the event a student tests positive for COVID-19, Northwood will invoke its “Response to Positive COVID Case” procedures, which include isolating the infected individual, performing contact tracing in conjunction with the Midland County Health Department, and disinfecting the areas that the individual came in contact with. If this happens, the University’s operational status would change. The University is currently in the “Vigilance” (green) stage – the first in a possible five-stage progression.

Guided by Northwood’s core values, the leadership team will responsibly monitor changing conditions on campus, in all areas where Northwood has Program Centers and operations, and in the broader community. As conditions change, the leadership team will make decisions and communicate any necessary changes to operations as appropriate.

“Our plans for the 2020-2021 academic year, the fall reopening, and our response to positive COVID cases will continue to focus first and foremost on preserving the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Northwood President, Dr. Kent MacDonald. “Even though we cannot eliminate the coronavirus, we can offer a new, adapted environment that addresses health and safety protocols while continually offering a quality education from Northwood University.”