Spring into the semester
Recplex was the place to be as spring semester started on campus. Popular as a location for working out and seeing friends, it was transformed in January to an entry testing site for all undergraduate students as well as graduate students living in campus housing.
During three weeks in January, 7,601 students were tested prior to moving in, with .22% testing positive for the novel coronavirus. These 17 students each received a case manager who helped them through isolation protocols and with other needs.
Junior Jacob Revak was there for much of it. A health science major, he worked 10 and one half hours each day Fridays through Mondays administering the rapid antigen test. Hired and trained by Premier Health, he said students would often come to him nervous about the test. “It was nice to explain and help people understand,” he said. It was also good work experience for Revak, who is deciding what area of health care to pursue.
While Revak administered the test alongside health professionals, more than 270 faculty and staff volunteers helped greet, register and release students from the testing center.
“I think my favorite volunteer is Mike Krug from the provost’s office, because he tells students at the checkout station that they’ve already passed their first test of the semester, and every student laughs,” said Lindsay Maxam, a staff member in student development who coordinated the volunteers.
Classes began Jan. 19 fully remote to allow for testing and a staggered move-in. Classes scheduled to meet in-person resumed Feb. 1.
At the spring semester faculty meeting, Provost Paul Benson thanked everyone for their flexibility with the remote start. He also reported that student spring and fall 2020 course evaluations overall showed the highest marks since the current evaluation system began six years ago. Students were especially thankful for individual concern and accommodations made by faculty to ensure learning continued.
“I thank all of you for your perseverance, your resilience, your dedication to our craft in the face of circumstances that continue to be very, very difficult.”
“I thank all of you for your perseverance, your resilience, your dedication to our craft in the face of circumstances that continue to be very, very difficult,” Benson told the faculty.
President Eric F. Spina at the meeting said exemplary work from throughout campus reflected a deep dedication to mission.
“Your passion for our university, for our students and for our mission is really quite clear,” he said.
The University also found itself rising to meet the needs of the wider community. The staff at UD Arena transformed the athletics facility into a mass vaccination clinic. Students and faculty from the physician assistant program were among those who helped with every need, from directing traffic to administering vaccines in partnership with Premier Health.
With acknowledgment of the continuing challenges posed by the virus, the University resumed in February surveillance testing of up to 800 students each week, in addition to special populations such as athletes and student teachers. Campus messaging reinforced the need for students to follow protocols to ensure a successful semester on campus.
Looking forward, the University is planning to again offer summer courses at a discounted per credit hour cost of $875. For fall, the University intends to offer a full, in-person return to the classroom with an acknowledgement that some COVID protocols may still be in place.