ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Lindenwood University is gearing up for regular classes and will soon be almost as busy as ever in a couple weeks – with students from across the world.
Lindenwood feared attendance could drop by as much as 15 percent because of the pandemic.
It did not. Enrollment is almost the same as last year.
“It just shows the enthusiasm,” said Dr. John Porter, university president.
Porter said their planning has paid off. The university made four plans and opted to have students return in-person.
“We just have to execute on the plan for the safety of our students and faculty and staff,” Porter said.
Jack Bedtke will return for his senior year from Chicago. He said he’s staying in St. Louis after graduation.
“I love college, so I wanted to go back,” he said. “I mean, you only get a couple years to really experience college.”
“So, it’s going to be interesting to see how it works and how it flows and to get that campus culture back while also being safe and practical with things.”
Bedtke will live in campus dorms, which will 90 percent full this fall. They’re cutting down some room assignments to no more than two to a room.
“My roommate actually is a severe asthmatic, so going back to campus, I have to be even more cautious because he’s again in that more high-risk area,” Bedtke said.
Lindenwood will set aside areas for students who test positive to live in quarantine. New technology will allow them to continue class during that time if they’re able.
Cameras will livestream classes. This will also allow Lindenwood to stagger classes so that a classroom is never more than half-full.
Lindenwood Provost Dr. Mark Arant said that should allow students to interact from outside the classroom.
“So, if they’ve got a question and they turn their feed on, the professor can see them asking the question and we do have screens up in some of the classes, so some of the students in the classroom may be able to see the student asking the question as well,” he said.
The university dining hall will also be open, with strict rules on social distancing, but it’s a big deal to Bedtke, who said that’s where he often meets students from around the world.
“I’m a big, big fan of the lunchroom. I love eating lunch in big groups, so when they said that we can eat in the dining halls I was excited,” he said.
The university will move to online-only classes starting at the Thanksgiving break to avoid having people leave and return to campus for just a short time in December. College administrators decided it wasn’t worth the increased risk of virus spread.