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Bismarck State College planning to reopen this summer with precautions

Bismarck State College planning to reopen this summer with precautions

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Bismarck State College officials are working on plans to get students in certain programs back on campus this summer after coronavirus-related closures ended their semesters early this spring.

The move comes after the State Board of Higher Education last week signaled its intent to have all students back in the fall.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dan Leingang earlier this week said BSC submitted its plan to provide limited face-to-face instruction this summer to University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott for approval. The plan has since been approved and an email went out to students on Friday.

The plan includes protocols for social distancing, cleaning and personal protective equipment. Masks will be mandatory on campus until further notice. Officials are looking at a phased approach in which certain programs would start at staggered times throughout the day.

“It’s really addressing all of those protection sides, but trying to bring (students) back” to complete some of the work that was missed due to the closure this spring, Leingang said.

Certain technical programs that BSC offers requires students to be present in-person for instruction and are not conducive to online learning. The programs that will be returning to campus this summer include auto collision and auto technology, welding, HVAC, the lineworker program, other energy programs and several health-related programs.

“It’s dependent on size of the room. It’s dependent of the type of work that needs to be done,” Leingang said. “In the lineworker program, you have a large open field where they’re working. Some of our technical programs, like auto collision, you have a large workshop area. So we're looking to spread out as much as we can.”

Officials will learn from how this summer goes in preparing for the fall semester, Leingang said. BSC had been planning to have students back on campus for in-person classes since at least April 29, when State Board of Higher Education members passed a motion expressing their intent to have students return to campus for in-person instruction this fall.

Precautionary measures will be taken to protect student safety in the fall. Those measures could include temperature screenings at building entrances, in-person and online “hybrid” classes that limit the number of students gathered in person, as well as changes to residence halls and food services to ensure social distancing.

“It won’t look the same as it looked in the past,” Leingang said.

Safety plans for the fall semester will be worked on throughout the summer, and more details will be sent to students and staff as decisions are finalized in the coming months.

Though many students at BSC are under 20 years old and thus have a lower risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19, college officials say they need to be considerate of older, nontraditional students as well as faculty and staff who may be older.

“We have to be thinking and thoughtful for all individuals,” Leingang said. 

Reach Bilal Suleiman at 701-250-8261 or Bilal.Suleiman@bismarcktribune.com

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