ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) – As Dixie State University students prepare for fall semester, university officials emailed students Friday morning about the options available for education and the protocols put in place for student and faculty safety.

Classes are slated to start on August 24th, and Sarah Vandermark, the associate provost for academic success, said in a video to students that because of COVID-19, ‘things will be different’ this year.

“Our goal is to provide you with a university as normal as possible while maintaining a safe, and healthy learning environment,” Vandermark said.

In a letter to Trailblazers, Dr. Michael Lacourse, the Provost and vice president for academic success, and Del Beatty, the assistant vice president and Dean of Students, wrote about their excitement for students to be back on campus in the coming weeks whether in the form of in-person, interactive livestream, or online.  

“While holding classes during these unprecedented times necessitates that the University takes extra measures, it also requires our outstanding students to demonstrate their strength of character and practice an increased dedication to learning,” Lacourse and Beatty wrote.

Learning formats, class schedules and resources

In a video to students, a DSU ambassador said this year, they’re ‘pioneering new ways with a quality education deserved’.

Trailblazers will have four different structural formats to allow students and professors increased flexibility through in-person, alternating in-person and interactive livestream, livestream, or online-only learning.

For alternating in-person and interactive livestream courses, the University said students will alternate which days they are learning on campus or online.

“If the last digit of student ID number is even, class will be in-person on Monday and Tuesday, and livestream Wednesday and Thursday,” a DSU ambassador said. “For students whose student ID ends with an odd number, classes will be livestreamed Monday and Tuesday, and in-person Wednesday and Thursday.”

Professors will inform students about Friday classes via Canvas.

More class information will be sent to students via Canvas in mid-August.

Students attending DSU are required to have access to the internet and a laptop. Laptops are available for rent from the DSU Library at no cost to students. The University reports there will be a limited number of computers available for use.

Health and safety precautions

To ensure students and staff stay healthy and safe, DSU will require students to wear a face-covering during in-person learning, and while on campus when maintaining a six-foot social distance is not possible.

The University states students are required to maintain a three-foot social distance while in class.

As national, state, and local guidelines are susceptible to change, Lacourse and Beatty continue to say in their letter to students that the school will stay up to date with all guidelines. Because of this, they said campus plans may change if current guidelines are updated.

“As of now, the governor of Utah has declared that Washington County is in the Low-Risk (Yellow) Phase of the state’s color-coded health guidance system,” Lacourse and Beatty wrote. “Since we expect to remain in the Yellow Phase when the fall semester begins, the return-to-campus information below applies to this phase. Should the governor declare that Washington County transitions to another risk phase, such as Green, Orange, or Red, these guidelines will be altered and communicated to you as quickly as possible.”

Student life and activities

Because of COVID-19 many traditional college activities may look different this year. The University writes on its website that the Dixie State University Student Association (DSUSA) is working creatively through the pandemic to build ‘The Dixie Life’ that students have become accustomed to.

“While attending events during the Yellow Phase, students should practice physical distancing and wear face coverings that cover their noses and mouths,” the University states.

Large-scale events like the Foam Dance will be postponed with the hope of holding it in late April 2021. However, DSUSA will continue to hold weekly Wednesday events. The majority of events will have an online interactive element, so if students are feeling sick or would rather stay home, they can still participate.

If attending a DSU football game, the University reports students will be required to wear a face covering at all times.

Clubs and service projects will continue with safety precautions in place.

COVID-19 resources

DSU officials said they are frequently tracking new information in regard to COVID-19. Their response efforts can be viewed online.

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