Spring has been an unparalleled season for Lincoln College. As the threat of the novel coronavirus became a significant concern to the campus community, campus administrators, with guidance from local, state, and federal health organizations, made the decision to close campus facilities and move to online learning.
“The closure was a necessary step to ensure the safety and well-being of students, faculty, and staff of Lincoln College, as well as the Logan County community,” said Lincoln College President David Gerlach. “We made significant adjustments to our daily operations and mobilized remote education. We worked tirelessly to ensure our mission to uniquely empower students to realize their full potential was sustained online,” added Gerlach.
Continued COVID-19 closures could have a profound effect on colleges and universities should they be unable to resume critical operations, not just for students, but higher education and the communities where the campuses reside. According to the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities’ economic impact calculator, Lincoln College has a $53 million annual regional economic impact.
For these reasons, Lincoln College has intentions to return to residential operations and in-class instruction for fall 2020, in compliance with Governor Pritzker’s emerging strategy to reopen Illinois. “Any plans for the fall semester will be in accordance with the declarations made by Governor Pritzker, health agencies, and industry best practices. All decisions will have the safety of the campus community at the forefront,” said Gerlach.
To work through these complexities, Lincoln College will be assigning task leaders to begin developing policies and executing plans for the fall 2020 semester. Gerlach noted the working groups are looking at how housing and operations can be controlled and modified to minimize contact and better manage the safety needs of the campus. Other options might include examining class schedules and reducing class sizes, restricting campus visitors and non-students through building access, use of protective equipment, additional sanitation efforts, and management of campus gatherings. Administrators are examining new practices that would facilitate learning, living, and working together in a healthy and safe environment.
“We understand that the fall 2020 semester will look differently than the traditional experience. We also acknowledge that many families are reconsidering sending their students off to institutions with thousands of students. We believe being a small, residential campus will work to our advantage in safeguarding the students, staff, and faculty, and families can find reassurance in that,” Gerlach added.
Fortunately, Logan County, at this time, has one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 infection in Illinois according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
With the safety and welfare of Lincoln College and the Logan County community as a top priority, the institution hopes to move forward through these unprecedented times. The future success of Lincoln College is dependent upon the shared mission to serve its Lynx family-including alumni and supporters-in the months ahead. The decisions that will be made will adapt to the nation’s new reality and Lincoln College is looking forward to welcoming back students for fall 2020.