As the fall semester nears the end, Kansas State officials prepare to continue COVID-19 protocols into the next semester.
Provost Charles Taber said the university executive leadership team is closely monitoring the protocols and said they are working well so far.
“Our ability to stay in the current class modalities hinges on both on and off-campus behaviors of everyone at K-State,” Taber said. “We expect to operate under the same conditions as the fall semester. We have eliminated spring break and are working to replace it with several wellness days.”
Thomas Lane, vice president for student life and dean of students, said K-State is working on setting up mobile COVID-19 testing sites in locations where a lot of students are.
“In the spring, there will be more opportunities for students to be asymptomatic tested, and we’ll be doing that by going to where the students are,” Lane said, “We want to set up clinics at the union, at residence halls and working with the fraternities and sororities life community to see where we could set up testing clinics to encourage students to participate in asymptomatic testing.”
Derek Jackson, director of housing and dining services, said it was important testing is available for all students and said the plan is to have mobile clinics in the spring.
“Students can get tested on campus and take the asymptomatic test, but in the spring we’re working on a process to do asymptomatic testing. We want to take it on the road and make it more accessible to students.” Jackson said.
Another change for the spring semester was the decision to get rid of spring break. Lane said the main reason behind that decision was to avoid students traveling and bringing the virus back to the community.
“There was a lot of conversation about the decision to not have a spring break, but we want to attempt to reduce travel as much as we could so that we’re not reintroducing the virus into another community or bringing it back to Manhattan from another community,” he said.
Lane said he hopes that students and staff would want to get the vaccine if one were available.
“My hopes are that students, facility and staff would want to participate in the vaccine. I think that’s going to be a game-changer on getting through the pandemic,” Lane said. “I’m optimistic about having more of a normal in-person fall semester, but it will depend upon how prevalent the vaccine, in terms of how many people have taken the vaccine.”
Lane said he knows that a lot of people are tired of not being able to gather, having to wear a mask and staying socially-distanced.
“The important thing is that we have to dig-in and remember that the virus doesn’t care if we’re tired, it will still be there,” Lane said. “It’s just looking for a host. It’s up to us to really be resilient and do the things that we know work.”
Taber wants students to stay focused on their goals and stay determined during these tough times.
“Persevere! This is hard for all of us, but do not let the pandemic and difficult conditions deter you from working toward your dreams! Have grace for yourselves, each other, and for your faculty and staff,” Taber said via email.