As we enter our sixth week of classes and continue to fight the virus, there are many different safety measures on campus. The college has introduced mandates put in place to keep students and staff at Northwestern as long as possible.
On Sept. 19, President Greg Christy released updated mitigation measures for the college. These four new measures were introduced with the increased amount of positive cases in Sioux County.
They include wearing your mask in your residence hall except while you are in your room, wearing your mask any time you are in close proximity to others (including outside), maintaining at least six feet of physical distance whenever possible (both indoors and outdoors) and being responsible when you get together with friends.
“We anticipated these types of cases might happen, and we’re prepared to respond,” Christy said in an all-campus email. “So, to bring our number of campus cases down and to protect that in-person college experience, we’re enacting additional temporary mitigation measures.”
As these new measures are put in place, many others are still present, like the Raider Check app available in the Apple store and mask requirements in the chapel, classrooms, cafeteria and common areas.
Even though the Caf only allows students to be served by Creative Dining employees, new measures are being introduced for students in quarantine.
With the assistance of the COVID-19 coordinator for student life Michael Simmelink, Creative Dining is now allowing asymptomatic students to pick up their meals in the front of the Caf for the first 10 minutes they are open. This is to allow those students to get the right amount of food they feel is necessary. This is done to make things a bit smoother for the Caf workers that would need to stop serving and assist those in getting a prepackaged meal.
“It’s a constant battle of cost/benefit analysis. How do we do what we do safely but also value the on-campus experience,” Simmelink said. “I want people to know that we are doing our best and everyone has their normal job plus COVID-stuff. If we don’t extend grace to each other, it’s going to be a bearcat of a year.”
Different avenues of learning are happening in the classroom as well. NW has a mix of in-person, online and hybrid classes being offered.
New safety measures are being encouraged inside the classrooms, as students are required to sit six feet from each other and wear masks, and students in quarantine are able to Zoom into most classrooms so they don’t miss out on potential learning. However, some students feel the physical distancing takes away from classroom experiences.
“It has been hard to get the full aspect of learning in the classroom with physical distancing,” junior Abby Van Peursem said. “One thing I love most about Northwestern is the community, the smaller classrooms and having one-on-one discussions. We haven’t been able to do that with COVID, and I miss that interaction and chance to learn with peers.”
Changes in the chapel experience have also been in effect for this school year. The iAttended app allows for easier and more environmentally friendly tracking of chapel attendance. However, with physical distancing and wearing masks being a requirement during chapel services, some students feel a change in their worship experience.
“It feels a little lonelier,” senior Schuyler Sterk said. “One of my favorite parts of worshipping together has always been to do it with my friends. I know the distance is not that big in reality, but it just feels a little more isolated and lonely.”
As the year goes on, changes will continue to occur in order to keep students, faculty and staff safe. NW’s procedures are in place and modified based on local healthcare’s advice to keep everyone on campus and to improve the education and faith of each student.