Kansas State students, faculty anticipate reopened campus for 2021 fall semester

A student walks into Willard Hall on Tuesday, May 4, for an in-person art class. Some in-person classes met during the spring semester in limited numbers to follow COVID-19 guidelines. (Emma Witter | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State announced campus will reopen for the 2021 fall semester, with COVID-19 restrictions beginning to phase out on Aug. 1. After learning online or in a hybrid setting for over a year, students will return to many in-person classes starting in August. It should look more like normal for K-State students, faculty and staff.

University officials said many current restrictions will end in August as K-State moves through phases of the reopening plan. Limitations on classrooms and learning spaces will also end in the fall.

President Richard Myers said in a Feb. 24 K-State Today article that he is thankful the campus will reopen to the students.

“We have long anticipated the day when the K-State family could gather again in person,” Myers said. “As the pandemic continues to improve, we are planning a fall semester that will be more normal than our 2020-2021 academic year. As with all things COVID-19 related, these plans depend on continued improvement in suppressing the spread of the virus.”

In the announcement, Myers asks all students and staff to continue abiding by the protocols to ensure a smooth transition into the fall semester.

“We continue to monitor COVID-19 data and will share numbers on our university dashboard,” Myers said. “We will need to be flexible and make adjustments in the coming months. We remain committed to keeping every wildcat a wellcat.”

Students and staff members had to adjust to remote learning as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many college campuses. Avery Osen, journalism and mass communications instructor, said he is looking forward to on-campus classes in the fall.

“For journalism and the classes that I teach specifically, [they] are very hands-on and to switch to a zoom format or a format that is not in person is nearly impossible,” Osen said.

Osen teaches audio and video foundation classes, which use software that many students are not familiar with. He said teaching students about the software and how to use it for projects was not an easy task. Osen also said he looks forward to giving students the opportunity to use real equipment for these projects.

“My classes usually go over to McCain — which is where the radio station is — and for audio foundations, we will record over there, but that just hasn’t been possible for the last couple semesters,” Osen said.

This past semester, Osen said his classes could resume in-person and record over at the radio station while following safety restrictions. They also used the video cameras provided by K-State for his video foundations class. He said giving students those experiences made things feel more normal but pointed out how social distancing and other safety protocols still made things difficult.

“I am happy that we are able to get back in person because it was so tough on Zoom last year,” Osen said. “I know the students did not enjoy it as much and it was really difficult for me as an instructor to try and teach what I teach in audio and video through Zoom.”

Izzy Norris, freshman in architectural engineering, said she has yet to take an on-campus class or live in Manhattan. She said she is excited to move and attend class on campus for the start of her sophomore year.

“It is kind of hard to feel like you are in college if you are not really there,” Norris said. “I just learn a whole lot better when I am in person because I have someone there actually teaching me and also holds me accountable with all my classes and homework.”

Norris said she is looking forward to getting involved in the classroom and building relationships with fellow students and teachers.

“I really have not had a chance to connect with any of my professors, which kind of stinks, because it is very important for the college experience and that way you can get connections that will help in the real world,” Norris said.

Kaden Bradshaw, sophomore in accounting, said he is not opposed to classes over Zoom. He said there are both positive and negative aspects of remote learning, but he eventually got used to it.

“I am really excited about getting back into the classroom,” Bradshaw said. “Some of the main things are just being able to communicate with other classmates and also seeing the professor doing things rather than just over a screen, because I feel like it is much easier to understand and comprehend.”

He said he is also looking forward to having face-to-face interactions again.

“Trying to do group projects through Zoom can be very difficult, so having the chance like a year ago to go to the library and work with others was very beneficial,” Bradshaw said.

The fall semester begins Aug. 23, and the K-State campus is expected to look more like it did before the COVID-19 pandemic.