At Northwest College in Powell, staff are preparing offices, classrooms and dorm rooms for the return of students on Aug. 19, even though officials are not sure how many students will show up for the fall semester.
West Hernandez, Enrollment Services Director at Northwest, said numbers for the fall semester are changing from week to week.
“It’s challenging to get an accurate picture,” he said. “You know, we have a good population of international students here at Northwest, and we don’t know what that’s gonna look like. And we have students who are just, and rightfully so, apprehensive about a large group of people coming to campus. So there is some talk about students nationally taking a gap year.”
Hernandez said he certainly understands why students are wary.
“We don’t know what this fall’s going to look like in many ways,” he said. “So you’re giving students information at this current time, with them hoping to make a decision, and sometimes you can’t give them everything.”
Hernandez said the college is still working out the details of what campus life will be like this fall — looking at a combination of online classes with in-person classes that would be held only with the appropriate safety measures in place.
“Students will have the opportunity to go to class in person at times, but also join us via Zoom for that live interaction,” he said.
Campus officials are making sure that Northwest College students are as safe as possible when school does start again this fall — that includes making mask-wearing mandatory for students and staff.
“We’re asking students and staff to wear masks while on campus, especially in those close quarter areas,” he noted. “You know, if you’re within 6 feet of somebody, it is going to be a requirement.”
Hernandez said the college’s staff is being diligent about cleaning facilities, but added students will need to do their part.
“We’re going to need the students’ help in following orders, monitoring how they’re feeling every day, and all those pieces. It’s definitely going to be a different fall semester than normal.”