June 8th, 2020
After a recent announcement that the 2020 fall semester will begin with in-person classes, President Jon Gering has now shared more information about the college’s plans.
“Our academic calendar originally identified Aug. 19 as the start date for classes,” he said. “We have examined other calendar options with earlier start dates.
“In the final analysis, we chose to stay with an Aug. 19 start date because it provides a sense of stability in a chaotic world, is most conducive to health and safety protocols, provides the most time for our faculty and staff to prepare for the fall semester, and meshes well with recent announcements from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.”
The NAIA released its decision that, beginning Aug. 15, student-athletes may practice consistent with all health and safety protocols any institution deems necessary.
The later start dates of fall athletics allow Bethel to bring back students more gradually, which will give time for students from COVID-19 hot spots to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Gering appointed a Fall 2020 Reopening Task Force earlier in the spring.
The group is currently compiling three contingency plans in the event in-person classes need to be moved to an online platform.
In addition, they are outlining health and safety protocols for students, faculty and staff.
Bethel has continued daily operations remotely since March 13 and is working towards bringing staff back on campus in a limited capacity later this month, consistent with the Harvey County reopening plan.
Maintaining social distancing, conducting larger gatherings remotely, wearing masks in situations where social distancing is not possible, and continuing to practice good hygiene to provide a healthy and safe environment as students, faculty, staff and visitors return to campus remain priorities.
“We care a great deal about the health and safety of our community and want to prepare as best we can for the repopulation of campus,” Gering said.
Faculty have been asked to prepare for several different instructional possibilities.
As long as there are no mandates otherwise from health officials, classroom and on-campus instruction will be the standard. All facilities will be open and accessible to students. In the event of health restrictions, Bethel will follow federal, state and Harvey County guidelines.
“A vibrant, face-to-face, classroom relationship between student and teacher is a hallmark and strength of a Bethel College education,” said Robert Milliman, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty.
“We are anxious to resume this practice on Aug. 19. New and veteran Threshers will be welcomed by qualified and experienced professors eager to prepare them for meaningful lives of work and service.”
As of June 22, the campus will be fully open to visitors, with masks and a check-in required. Bethel will continue to follow the Kansas Department for Health and Environment (KDHE) travel and quarantine guidelines for students, faculty, staff and visitors who proceed to and from high-risk areas.
Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is the highest ranked Kansas private college, at #12, in Washington Monthly, Top 200 Bachelor’s Colleges; ranks at #23 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest; is Zippia.com’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; stands at #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities listed by lendEDU as “Best for Financial Aid”; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to RNtoBSN.com; and earned its second-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star gold award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2019-20. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu