Wilmington College is planning for the upcoming fall semester to offer more of a typical — prepandemic — campus experience beginning when students arrive in advance of the first day of classes on Aug. 23.
Homecoming is back on the calendar along with a mid-semester break, fall sports and a full slate of in-person classes. Indeed, the ever-increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccinations and successful treatments, in conjunction with effective precautions for mitigating the spread of the virus, give college officials the expectation of being able to offer a robust campus experience.
Since mid-March, special vaccination clinics have been readily available to all WC students, faculty and staff members wishing to receive the protection.
WC President Trevor Bates indicated that a number of factors are trending in the right direction for the college to resume more normal operations, including the recent staging of in-person programming honoring student accomplishment and plans for live commencement ceremonies May 8.
“We truly expect this coming fall to look markedly different than fall 2020, which is what everyone wishes,” Bates said. He noted that after more than a year of holding virtual events, meetings and other gatherings, and watching either no WC sports as in the fall or seeing them livestreamed only, it will be “refreshing” to be able to interact face-to-face and attend live campus events again.
Adam Lohrey, senior director of admissions, said he and his staff have enjoyed being able to hold in-person recruitment events, such as this past week’s Accepted Student Recognition Day and Accepted Student-Athlete Recognition Day.
“After a year of engaging in much of our recruitment work virtually, we’ve been able to return to in-person programming with personalized one-on-one visits, as well as gatherings with larger groups of students and families,” he said, noting they’ve been able to ensure physical distancing and other mitigation factors while safely hosting campus visits. “We encourage prospective students and their families to visit our campus and learn firsthand how Wilmington College can be a foundation for a life of service and success.”
The president commended the campus for its success in dealing with the pandemic during the 2020-21 academic year. As of May 4, only 22 students had tested positive to coronavirus during the spring semester, which started with activities in early January. Currently, there is only one active case.
“We’ve proven to ourselves and others outside the institution that when we are proactive and vigilant in caring about one another’s safety and well-being, we can be successful,” Bates said. “Going forward, we will continue to emphasize these attributes while providing outstanding educational and campus life experiences.”
Bates said faculty members have been notified they should plan to teach their fall 2021 courses almost exclusively in-person. During the current academic year, 75 percent of courses were instructed fully in-person on WC’s main campus with the balance featuring a combination of hybrid and online teaching modalities. The college’s Cincinnati branch, which is located as part of the campus of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, essentially offered hybrid and online courses.
In 2020, per rulings by the NCAA and Ohio Athletic Conference, competition in fall sports was postponed during the traditional months followed by abbreviated seasons held this spring. Conference rulings on crowds at games evolved from literally no audiences allowed for winter sports to limited crowds during this spring’s fall and spring sports seasons.
With virtually all of 185 competitions scheduled from January through May already played, the college has missed only two games, only one due to a COVID-related issue within a Wilmington College team. The college anticipates the NCAA and OAC will provide updated protocols for athletics and crowds this summer as guidance beginning with the fall sports seasons.
Bates said the college will continue basing its policies on state regulations and those guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control and the Ohio and Clinton County health departments.
Randy Sarvis is the senior director of public relations at Wilmington College.