'We've had to get creative.' CEI preparing to start fall semester Monday - East Idaho News

‘We’ve had to get creative.’ CEI preparing to start fall semester Monday

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IDAHO FALLS — College of Eastern Idaho is preparing to welcome students back for the fall semester by providing both in-person and online learning options during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fall 2020 semester for CEI begins Aug. 24. Approximately one-third of the classes will be taught in-person on campus and two-thirds will be through online learning.

“The health and safety of CEI students, faculty, and staff is foremost in our minds as we prepare to offer classes next week,” CEI President Rick Aman said in a news release.

The college plans to take certain safety precautions on campus such as classrooms will be disinfected regularly, hand disinfectants will be available throughout the campus and all faculty, staff and students are required to wear face coverings inside CEI buildings, in conjunction with Eastern Idaho Public Health’s COVID-19 Regional Response Plan.

Faculty, staff and students are asked to take their temperatures prior to coming to campus and to stay home if they’re feeling sick.

Classrooms will also be set up in ways that allow for social distancing. The need to social distance in classrooms has made it so space is limited for students to attend school in-person in the fall.

“For example, we have those tiered classrooms in building six (and) they typically hold about 32 students. To social distance like we’re supposed to, we can only put 11 or 12 students in there,” CEI spokesman Todd Wightman said. “It really limits us.”

To help make up for space, CEI is using their cafeteria as a large classroom. People can still grab food but they will have to eat it somewhere else. In the mornings only, the library will also be used as a large classroom.

“We’ve had to get creative to do this,” Wightman said. “We want people to feel like they’re safe when they come on campus.”

Aman explained in the news release the college has arranged their class offerings this fall to support new high school graduates who are interested in the first two years of a bachelor’s degree, existing university students who need 100 or 200 level courses but are not planning to attend a university this fall or anyone who is unemployed due to layoffs and has a desire to upgrade their degree or skill sets.

Wightman said they plan to stay open and do in-person classes throughout the fall, but if things worsen with COVID-19, they would reconsider.

“We have been preparing all summer to welcome students onto our physical campus or into the virtual learning space,” Lori Barber, CEI vice president of academic and student affairs, said in the news release. “With our expert faculty and staff, our approach has been to combine campus safety and high-quality instruction at the center of our preparation. CEI is a safe and collegiate space and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next week.”

To learn more about CEI and its COVID-19 information, click here.

For more COVID-19 news, click here.