KOKOMO, Ind. – There’s no place like Indiana University Kokomo.
That’s the sentiment shared by students, faculty, and staff, as they prepare to return to campus August 24, for the fall 2020 semester.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke looks forward to re-opening the campus, which has been closed since students left for spring break March 13, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, she added there will be some changes in order to return safely.
“We want students to be back, and we know they want to be back as well,” Sciame-Giesecke said. “We will be in-person as much as we possibly can be, and still be safe.”
During the fall semester, approximately 225 classes will be offered fully face-to-face, with about 400 more split between in-person and remote learning. On campus classes continue through November 20, and then will be completed remotely through the end of the semester.
That was excellent news to Master of Business Administration student Paola Cubides, an international student from Colombia.
“When I saw the email that we are going to go back in person for the fall semester, it gave me hope,” she said. “It gave me the satisfaction of knowing I will see my friends and professors very soon.”
She’s stayed with her host family in Wabash during the pandemic, completing her classes and working remotely as a campus Spanish tutor. She’s excited to return to in-person classes.
Jeremiah Kline, from Peru, also is ready to be back on campus.
“I can’t wait to go back to IU Kokomo so I can feel like I’m fully me again,” he said. “I’m a people person, and with being home and only seeing my family members and going to work, school just wasn’t the same.”
He’s prepared to wear a face covering, use hand sanitizer, and be diligent about hand washing.
Those classes may look a little different than in the past.
While campus has been closed, physical plant staff have sanitized the buildings and set up classrooms with seating strategically placed for social distancing. Smaller classes that can fit all students in while meeting these safety guidelines will meet on their regular schedule.
Larger classes that cannot fit all students with 6-feet separation may split the class, alternating so half the class attends in person and half virtually each session, allowing all students to have in-person class time. Students, faculty, and staff will wear face coverings in the buildings.
Heather Kennedy-Eden, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management, is one of many faculty reworking her classes. Her goal is to give students the same high-quality IU Kokomo instruction they’ve always received, in a slightly different format.
“I’m examining all of my topics and figuring out what’s the best way to set up so students can be successful,” she said. “It’s different when you have some in the class with you, and others watching online. You want everyone to be able to participate and get the same level of experience.”
Her classes usually involve a lot of travel, which won’t be as easy to incorporate for the present time. Kennedy-Eden has found virtual tourism experiences, such as a tour of the Great Barrier Reef she’s used in a summer online class. It’s a great example of something they could do working in the tourism industry in the future.
“Virtual tourism is a way for them to participate in it and see that it’s a good experience for tourists,” she said. “It might encourage people to go see it in person when they can travel again. During these crazy times, we have to be resilient.”