Summer orientation online, fall in-person classes still undecided


Screenshot from April 16 town hall.

The format of Wichita State University’s fall semester classes is still unknown, WSU President Jay Golden and Provost Rick Muma said during the virtual town hall held Thursday afternoon. 

Although the future is still uncertain for fall classes, the officials said they will most likely be modified due to the looming COVID-19 pandemic. 

Muma said specific steps have to happen before the community can congregate in large numbers like they used to.

“There’s three things that really have to happen and come together before people will be able to congregate in large numbers,” Muma said. “A vaccine . . . that’s about a year out, a treatment of some sort — that might be a little bit sooner . . . [and] universal testing for the virus. That’s going to take a while to get all that in place.”

Muma, a former physicians assistant, said that while the community waits for these steps to be taken, the university is coming up with ways to have classes while still prioritizing the health of students and faculty.

“We’re going to have to kind of coexist with the virus and think about doing things a little bit differently,” he said. “What I’m telling faculty to do is. . .  [to plan] for the fall now. I’ve talked to faculty who’ve moved their courses into online formats already. I’m encouraging people to do that.”

While the format for fall classes is unknown, Muma said he is still hopeful that the university will open campus up again sometime over the summer.

Golden said he is optimistic about having some sort of in-person classes while still complying with social distancing, but there are still many questions that have yet to be answered. 

“We are optimistic and are planning . . . to start classes in person in some type of potentially modified way in August,” he said. 

“Will we have potentially some classes of a size of 20 or 25 students that are going to have to be held in larger classrooms so we still do social distancing? Will our schedules reflect a little differently? Is there a [possibility] that we have weekend classes? Maybe, to accommodate scheduling.”

One question incoming WSU students likely have is how orientation will work. Muma said the university has already taken steps to purchase an online format for orientation. 

“We’re beginning to communicate that with the . . . incoming students that it’s going to be offered in that online format,” Muma said.