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Augustana and St. Ambrose semesters underway with COVID-19 in mind
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FALL SEMESTER BEGINS

Augustana and St. Ambrose semesters underway with COVID-19 in mind

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St. Ambrose University and Augustana College have started their fall semesters with many changes in place because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to officials, the two campuses have about 5,500 students combined, with hundreds of them living on campus. Both have adopted combinations of virtual and in-person instruction, procedures for screening and testing for the coronavirus and other measures designed to minimize or respond to the risks posed by COVID-19 to their campus communities.

“It is not an exaggeration to say every aspect was addressed,” Lynn Kilburg, associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said of the St. Ambrose's planning.

Kilburg is co-chair of the university committee that implemented St. Ambrose’s coronavirus plan.

Kilburg said the review included facility operation, services, visitors to campus and the personal interactions of the people on campus.

Both campuses have social distancing and face covering requirements and have increased their cleaning efforts. There has been outreach to the campus communities about the importance of the safety measures.

“We’ll continue to monitor it (the campus community) on a daily basis,” said Wes Brooks, Augustana’s vice president and dean of student life.

According to officials, the two schools have adjusted their classrooms to meet distancing standards, and some students who wished to start the year fully virtual have been allowed to do so.

“In short, all of our classes will be readily available both remotely and in person,” Brooks said of Augustana.

He and Kilburg said both campuses had contingencies built into their plans that were dependent on the extent of the pandemic, including going to fully virtual instruction if necessary.

According to the college website, students living on Augustana grounds have been asked not to leave campus unless necessary until Sept. 14.

Restrictions at the St. Ambrose residence halls include no visitors right now.

Both campuses have warned that their expectations of students will be enforced.

St. Ambrose is already in session, and a handful of students have been sent home for not abiding by the campus’ COVID-19 policies, according to Craig DeVrieze, St. Ambrose’s director of communications. They will continue their coursework online.

DeVrieze said as of Thursday, no one had been expelled for any coronavirus-related infractions.

Augustana had not disciplined anyone as of Thursday, Kirby Stockwell, a college spokeswoman, said. If it becomes necessary, it would be handled by the dean of students like any other alleged violation of campus rules.

Students were still moving in at that time. Classes began Monday.

DeVrieze said St. Ambrose had had two students and one employee test positive. The students were quarantined, and the ensuing testing found no one else they had been in contact with had contracted the virus.

In the employee’s case, the illness was identified before the person came to campus, and there was no exposure at the university.

According to Stockwell, Augustana had two students so far that were quarantined, but their tests were negative and both went back to their normal activities.

Both campuses can quarantine some students on the premises and worked with Quad-Cities hotels to have more space available should it be needed.

Augustana and St. Ambrose both have extensive details on their coronavirus plans on their websites.

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