As we approach the beginning of the new Academic Year, we are providing an update regarding campus operations for the Fall 2021 Semester at Bethany Lutheran College.
Throughout the summer we have maintained our commitment to providing a “return to normal” face-to-face teaching format and campus experience in August. Even though the COVID pandemic continues to cause problems worldwide, at this time we are still determined to begin the school year with as close to normal as possible campus operations. This means daily chapel, residence hall visitation hours, campus activities, and athletics will return to normal schedules and operating procedures. Classrooms will operate in a normal fashion. Masking is currently not required, but optional. We expect all Bethany students, whether you are living in Bethany residence halls or you are a commuter student, to return to campus for face-to-face instruction when classes begin on August 24.
Whether or not to receive a COVID-19 vaccination has been a controversial topic since it first became available to adults late last winter. At Bethany, our stand has been that the decision about whether or not to receive a vaccination is a matter of personal conscience, and that no one on either side of the issue should be criticized. That remains our position on the issue today. Because at Bethany we do live, learn, and work in a close community setting, and because masking at this time will be optional, the administration encourages faculty, staff, and students to become fully vaccinated, but will not require it.
In order to help make receiving a vaccination easily available to anyone within the Bethany community who may still be looking for an opportunity, we will offer a free and voluntary on-campus vaccination clinic on Tuesday, August 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Younge Gymnasium of the Sports and Fitness Center. This vaccination clinic, held in partnership with the Hy-Vee Pharmacy, will be open to all students, employees, and their family members over the age of 12. Pre-registration is recommended by visiting the pharmacy website. This link will be active starting on August 11 and will remain open through the event on August 24.
Athletics and COVID Testing
Per NCAA guidelines, testing of in-season Bethany athletes will take place twice a week to begin the semester. The testing will again be offered on campus through a partnership with Hy-Vee Pharmacy. After the first two weeks of the season, we will only continue to test non-vaccinated athletes once a week unless developments warrant a change. In addition to the athletes, any Bethany student or employee may also sign up to receive a COVID test during the first two weeks of the semester through this Hy-Vee partnership.
Any Bethany student or student-athlete receiving a positive COVID test, will be subject to isolation protocol. Those who test positive for COVID are expected to isolate and cooperate with contact tracing, and anyone exposed to a COVID-positive individual is expected to quarantine as appropriate. For those living on campus, the College has identified limited isolation and quarantine spaces.
Hy-Flex Learning Option
For students who have concerns about our operational plans, or those who have extenuating circumstances that prohibit a return to campus, we have decided to continue to utilize Hy-Flex synchronous online learning. Individuals who feel unable to return to campus instruction for the entire semester must complete an application to participate in Hy-Flex learning. All applications will be considered by a review panel at Bethany, and will only be granted for those who believe they absolutely cannot return to campus for a normal semester experience. Your request must indicate the hardship you will experience in returning to campus. If you choose to utilize online learning you will abide by the following guidelines:
- Online learning is an all-or-nothing decision. You cannot take some classes online and attend others in person.
- Online learning is a semester-long commitment. You cannot opt into in-person learning once you’ve requested online learning.
- Students requesting a waiver and utilizing online learning will not be allowed to live in Bethany residence halls. Online learners must remain off campus for the entire Fall Semester.
- In order to participate in co-curricular activities and athletics, you must take your classes in person, on campus.
Any student interested in Hy-Flex learning must complete the Hy-Flex application by following the link in MyBLC. This should be done as soon as possible and no later than Friday, August 13, 2021. All decisions granting exceptions for online learning will be made no later than Tuesday, August 17, 2021. If you have any questions about applying for the online exemption, please contact Bethany Registrar Sergio Salgado.
As we know from our experience last year, the COVID landscape will continue to evolve. Bethany will monitor regulations put forth by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and will follow whatever COVID mitigation guidelines are required by MDH. We will also continue to communicate with you and share additional information should our plans need adjustment. Thank you for your continued patience and support, and may God bless the remainder of your summer break!
Gene R. Pfeifer, PhD
President, Bethany Lutheran College