Despite the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, Lindenwood managed to navigate through the fall semester without a shutdown.
This semester, Lindenwood reached a high of 58 positive student cases and 14 positive employee cases. KMOV reported on Sept. 29 that Lindenwood had the most COVID-19 cases out of colleges in the area over a span of 14 days.
Lindenwood’s cases began to decrease in October, but began to increase again, prompting the university to send a warning to students in November as the virus surged nationwide.
Julee Mitsler, director of communications for Lindenwood, said in an email that despite entering the semester with so many unknowns about COVID-19, the school was prepared for a variety of potential situations.
“Lindenwood’s Pandemic Preparedness Task Force (PPT) planned for a wide range of scenarios so we were prepared to make decisions as needed, based on what circumstances may have presented themselves,” Mitsler said.
Mitsler said Lindenwood was able to continue the semester on-ground because of the teamwork shown by students, faculty, and staff.
“The Lindenwood community as a whole did a great job of adapting to the unique circumstances that COVID-19 presented including a new way of learning and teaching, and the implementation of safety protocols like mask wearing, physical distancing, and group gathering sizes,” Mitsler said. “This semester challenged everyone at Lindenwood in different ways – it was tough no doubt.”
The university was able to continue operations, but approach the semester with different methods.
Some low-risk sports were still able to compete with protocols. Students and professors had to adapt to challenges with virtual learning. Freshmen guided the fall differently as well to create a new college freshman experience.
Though the semester posed challenges, Lindenwood was still able to host over 580 events.
“Lindenwood hosted over 580 events for students during the fall semester, with more than half offering a safe in-person option,” Mitsler said. “Our students and employees were creative in planning programming to meet the needs of the COVID-19 protocol while also engaging students.”
Mitsler said there will be more to look forward to in the spring semester, including intramural sports, in-person group exercise classes, trivia nights and more.
John Stewart, a senior at Lindenwood, said he thought the semester ended up going as good as it could have given the circumstances.
“I think all of the sports teams, the campus staff, and all the student organizations were able to come together to find a way to make the best out of a really tough situation,” Stewart said. “A lot of schools couldn’t even continue staying in school and a lot of teams at other schools couldn’t even play.”
When asked how Lindenwood fared with COVID-19 cases this semester, Stewart said the impact was bigger than he thought it’d be.
“The cases were definitely peaking,” Stewart said. “I think they peaked really hard like two or three times, and those were some really tough times because everyone was inside isolation or quarantine.
“There was a good strong monthlong period where you couldn’t see anyone or hang with anyone so that was tough.”
Stewart, who is a rugby player, noted one positive for the school during the pandemic was the ability for sports to practice and compete.
“I think sports and events on campus went really well because first of all a lot of schools couldn’t even stay on campus and got kicked out,” Stewart said. “Or in comparison a lot of teams [at Lindenwood] were able to compete get training in and that’s a big positive.”
Stewart is looking forward to the spring semester in hopes that it will be better.
“I think now people are getting used to how to move about with this virus being over our heads…hopefully some of the guidelines can be lifted up a bit as people become more comfortable and the virus becomes less prevalent in our society. I’m looking forward to a much better semester and playing some games and enjoying the college experience,” Stewart said.
Benedek Horvath, a junior at Lindenwood, agrees that this semester was different, but the community was able to adapt.
It took time for us all to adapt the new ways of studying,” Horvath said in an email. “Obviously, there were less things to do on campus, but I think it was still an enjoyable semester.
“We just gotta find the ways to enjoy everything in this strange situation. I work as a CA, and although I have heard that people struggled, we tried to help them as much as possible, and I think everyone enjoyed their stay in Guffey and Calvert Rogers Halls.”
Unlike Stewart, Horvath thinks the COVID-19 cases were lower than expected in the fall but is interested in seeing what will happen next semester.
Horvath was impressed that the school was able to adapt to the change in sports during the pandemic and make creative events for students.
“They made sure that we were safe, but we could still enjoy some activities…I do hope that next semester, both the Hyland Arena and the stadium can open up with a limited capacity,” Horvath said.
At the moment, Lindenwood does not plan to require students to be tested to return for the spring semester.
Those who need COVID-19 testing resources can still take advantage of the free testing in St. Charles County.
With the creation of a COVID-19 vaccine, hopes are rising for next semester to return back to normal.
“I hope the vaccine will make things better…I hope next semester will be better. It may be hard in the first few, colder months, but I think the people of Lindenwood will know what to expect when they get back,” Horvath said.