“I think we will be in a space where we have fully on-campus instruction and I’m hopeful we don’t need to do blended or hybrid classes next semester,” said Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell regarding what next semester could look like.
With promises of vaccines around the corner, the college might look different than it is today. Treadwell said, “I think our requirements will be more relaxed than they are now because we will have the number of either acquired immunities because people contracted it or the vaccine that’s giving us some confidence in herd immunity. If the science holds as it is right now, what your hearing from the CDC is that individuals who have been fully vaccinated can begin gathering without masks in their homes.”
Treadwell also said, “As we move toward the goal of 80% of people getting vaccinated, I expect they’re going to be relaxing masks mandates and make it a lot easier for us to be able to take off our masks. I’m expecting that to be a possibility in the fall and a near certainty for spring. It’s all a gamble because who knows what this virus is going to do next but right now I’m pretty confident in both of those things.
Associate Vice President of Student Engagement at Keene State Jennifer Ferrell said, “What we’re planning for is, pretty much, a return to as much normalcy as possible, so definitely as many in-person opportunities as we can do. We’re really planning for a full in-person Fall 2021, so that means yes, classes in person, yes in-person student activities and events, possibilities for study away opportunities again and athletic competitions people can attend.”
Keene State Dean of Students Gail Zimmerman said, “The positive trends are the vaccine roll-out and what does look like a much quicker timeline than may have been thought even a few weeks ago. Things that may mitigate against us are the appearance of a more virulent variant. Let’s hope that doesn’t materialize.
I also think we will still be doing testing just not at the frequency we have right now.”
A major part of returning to normalcy for Keene State relies on students following COVID-19 protocols. Zimmerman also said, “Students should be checking in on each other and making sure that we are checking in with other members of the community to see how they’re doing. They should be helping out when possible for anybody who needs it and to reach out to resources if they need it. My message to students would be just hang in there, keep at it, keep practicing the mask-wearing, the physical distancing, just generally safe precautions because it will go a long way in getting us back to what we are all looking for for next year.”
Wayne Hartz, Department Chair for the Safety and Occupational Health Applied Sciences program at Keene State College, thinks next semester is going to look different. Hartz said, “I believe next semester is going to be different than the situation we are in currently if enough people are willing to get vaccinated and COVID-19 numbers stay under control. When it comes to KSC students, we must keep pushing on regarding COVID-19 protocols and rules on campus in order to return normalcy to our school.”
Harrison Paletta can be contacted at:
Note: Right photo was taken pre-COVID.