Students back at Bay Monday
ESCANABA — Bay College’s fall 2020 semester is set to begin on Monday, Aug. 17 and continue through Nov. 25. Bay College President Laura Coleman said the college has been busy preparing for students’ return to campus in recent months.
“We feel that we are prepared to serve our students in the very best way possible,” she said.
Bay closed its physical campuses in Escanaba and Iron Mountain to the public earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the college has prepared multiple plans related to the pandemic — including plans to allow employees to work from home, to bring employees back to campus safely and, now, to welcome students back to campus.
“That planning has been going on since the day we were closed,” Coleman said.
Previously, Bay’s fall 2020 semester had been set to start on Monday, Aug. 31. Coleman said the semester’s new start date was chosen to keep student travel during the semester to a minimum.
“We wanted … our students to be able to finish their classes by Thanksgiving and not have to come back,” she said.
Starting classes earlier in August should also allow the semester to be completed before the flu season starts.
One step Bay College has taken in response to COVID-19 has been to increase its focus on online classes.
“Normally, we have about 30 percent of our classes online. This year, we have 40 percent of our classes online,” Coleman said.
According to Coleman, all of Bay’s in-person classes this semester will offer some form of virtual or online availability. Classes will also be offered in a “hybrid” format.
“All of our classes are very accessible, both at home and within the building,” she said.
Some rooms at Bay College that are not normally used as classrooms — including large conference rooms at the Joseph Heirman University Center — will be repurposed during the fall 2020 semester. All Bay College rooms that will be used for in-person learning during the upcoming semester will be set up to allow for social distancing. Students and employees are expected to wear masks at all times.
Along with changes to classes, Bay’s tutoring services will be entirely virtual during the fall 2020 semester.
Spaces around Bay’s campus have been rearranged in order to help students avoid close contact with others.
“All of our rooms — our Hub, our classrooms, cafeteria — all of those have been set up for social distancing,” Coleman said.
Entrances to the college will be limited during the first week of the semester, as well. Coleman noted masks and hand sanitizer will be distributed to students at this time; from the second week of the semester on, doors will be open as usual around campus.
Coleman said Bay students who will live in on-campus housing this fall will move in later this week.
“They will be moving in over the weekend, and … the athletes are being put in rooms together,” she said.
Rooms for athletes aside, Bay’s on-campus housing capacity has been halved for the fall 2020 semester. Quarantined apartments will be available for any students who test positive for COVID-19 or who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the disease. Students living on campus will be given cleaning supplies for their apartments.
Coleman went on to provide some information on what Bay’s athletic program will look like in the near future.
“Basketball is going to be able to practice, but they will not be able to play until the winter,” she said.
Cross-country student athletes will be able to run as scheduled. Meanwhile, Bay’s baseball and softball teams will operate in a limited capacity.
As Bay students get ready to return to campus next week, Coleman encouraged them to adhere to social distancing guidelines, wash their hands regularly and avoid coming to class if they are sick — even if they only have mild symptoms.
“We all just need to be much more aware of our own health and how our health impacts others,” she said.
Still, she said the people working at Bay College are looking forward to the start of the fall 2020 semester.
“We are very excited — we can’t wait to see our students in the hallways and in the classrooms,” Coleman said.
For more information, visit www.baycollege.edu.