INTERVIEW: ‘WE MEET CONSTANTLY’ ON CORONAVIRUS

SILVIA OAKLAND, TRUMPET EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
NATHAN STEPHANY, KV NEWS DIRECTOR

What is Wartburg College’s plan for completing classes this semester?

Ernsting

“What we want to do is the best thing for Wartburg. We are already preparing for the possibility that either because of a change in the health status of our community or because of a mandate from government or another institution that we may have to go to remote learning. We’re developing those plans. We meet constantly and are adaptable. We’re aware of what’s going on at other institutions. But we’re not driven by that.” 

What does the college mean by remote learning? How is the college preparing for that possibility? 

“We’re using the term remote for this because this is a little bit different [than distance learning] because it’s an unplanned response to a crisis that’s occurred. As always at Wartburg, we are going to be really attuned to the individual needs of individual students. And if there are students who can’t watch a video at the moment, because it’s going to take them a half hour to download. Many students who might not have great connections at home might have a library that’s accessible or even a Starbucks, who knows, but we’re going to be attentive to the needs of individual students and yet it’s going to be a fast transition, this thing is moving very, very quickly. I just ask for a little patience from students knowing that it’s a fast transition and there’s going to be bumps in the road.”

What are the plans for RICE Day? 

“We are working to as much as possible, preserve the experience of race day, while still keeping everyone safe. So there’s a lot of things we’re considering about our RICE Day might be kept the same and changed. And so more to come on that apologies. I can’t give you much more, but we’re talking about it constantly.”

What is your advice for students who might be scared or worried during this time? 

“It’s okay to be afraid or anxious we should be this is a very natural response. So what I wouldn’t want to do is criticize anyone for being afraid, but for those who are afraid, I think knowledge is a great antidote to fear. Knowledge and conversation and engaging with the support systems, whether that’s faculty, counselors, your family, and the way we’re going to beat this fear is by working together and be in the strong community.”

What is the college doing for the faculty and staff who are in higher-risk groups if they contract COVID-19? 

“We know that there are people out there who have needs. We would just encourage people to do is to work with human resources when they know that they need an accommodation to request that accommodation through the normal channels, and we will make sure that they’re taken care of.”

How is the college responding to the financial situation of students who were planning to go on May Term classes abroad? 

“We’re fighting to recoup student dollars, wherever possible. I am meeting individually with every canceled activity instructor, and we’re talking about just that. We’re going to talk about how can you deliver these experiences to your students, some will be able to deliver the learning outcomes from on-campus or remote way. Others will tell me ‘there’s no way I can deliver that’ and then we’re going to work with students to find an alternative for that.”

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