Concerns, questions regarding fall semester addressed during virtual meeting

(Illustration by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

To address the concerns and questions of parents and students regarding an altered semester this fall, the Kansas State Parents and Family Program and Office of Admissions hosted a virtual meeting with individuals from various university departments. Representatives included members of the office of financial aid, student life, housing and dining, Lafene Health Center and the Student Success Center.

Thomas Lane, vice president of student life and dean of students, said the university has had to think differently in preparing for a fall semester unlike anything they’ve experienced.

“… but while the upcoming fall semester might be different than past fall semesters, what hasn’t changed is our excitement to bring students back on campus and our dedication to providing a high quality K-State student experience,” he said.

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Lane says there are many precautions that are being taken. They include condensing the occupancy of the residence halls by about 30 percent, providing a quarantine space that is available to any students who may need it, physically distancing in classes and on other campus spaces and continuing to educate the campus community on safety guidelines and precautions.

On Friday, K-State students will receive information about the mandatory face covering training and the steps that need to be taken before returning back to campus. The information will be available in K-State Today.

According to Lane, the university still has no plans to conduct regular COVID-19 testing for the general K-State student body, but they will be testing all symptomatic students, faculty and staff at Lafene.

“That’s based upon Center for Disease Control and Kansas Department of Health and Environment guidance that came out on July 28,” he said. “The current KDHE guidance states that testing should focus on symptomatic students, faculty and staff, which is what our testing protocol currently is aligned with, but please know that we continue to evaluate our testing protocol based upon our medical advisors’ guidance with the goal of increasing capacity for robust testing program during the semester.”

Unlike most years, move-in day for students living in the residence halls will be more structured and scheduled in an attempt to socially distance groups of people. The on-campus dining centers will also look different than in previous years. During the fall semester, all of the dining centers will offer carry out only. Additionally, the Derby dining center will be closed.

According to Derek Jackson, director of housing and dining services, food trucks will also be available to students.

“Because Van Zile is a little smaller, we’ll supplement with our food truck court,” he said. “We have contracts with three food trucks that will help supplement and give students some variety and some options.”

To give students additional care during the pandemic and the upcoming semester, Jackson said a COVID Cares team has been created.

“So we know we have students that are serving their 14 days of travel related quarantine,” he said. “Those students aren’t by themselves. I know between our health department, Lafene, as well as our counseling services, and our Student Life team, we’re going to be following up with our students making sure that they have the support and the care that they need and the answers to questions,”

Along with the COVID Cares team, K-State will also supply every student with welcome kits. The kits will include a face covering, a first aid kit, a no-touch key, lanyard and hand sanitizer.

In regards to financial aid, Robert Gamez, director of the office of student financial assistance, asks that any students or families experiencing financial distress due to the pandemic reach out for assistance.

“If you or your family have experienced any kind of financial repercussions because of COVID — and it can be all kinds, before I mentioned the loss of income, but it can also mean for families who have had a medical expenses that go above and beyond what insurance would cover, for example — then we want to know about that,” he said. “We have a form on our website. It’s under our forms heading and there is what’s known as a professional judgment appeal form. And for individuals who filed a FAFSA, we invite you to go ahead and fill that out as best you can. You have a secure upload functionality where individuals can upload the documents once they’ve completed them in a secure manner.”

For students that are concerned about the increased fee of $70 per credit hour for online classes, Gamez emphasized the importance of students reaching out for assistance.

“If you find that you have that the additional fee is detrimental to you being able to attend Kansas State University, I do want to hear about it and I would urge you to reach out to the financial aid office,” he said. “Depending on your situation, I would like to take a look around my staff and see if there’s any way we can possibly assist you.”

For any additional questions, the parents and families hotline can be called at 785-532-2222. To watch the full Parents and Families meeting, click here.