UW–Stout Makes Plans for “Modified Normal” Fall 2020

Elizabeth Vierkant

There are some uncertainties for how the University of Wisconsin–Stout’s Fall 2020 semester will look due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Chancellor Katherine P. Frank offers some insight regarding next semester.

“We are planning for a modified normal,” Chancellor Frank said. According to her, if students are able to return to UW–Stout, which is what the university is hoping for, some changes to campus operations be considered to ensure the safety and health of students and staff.

Chancellor Frank said the UW System plans to have an official announcement by Jul. 15 regarding whether or not classes will return face-to-face.

A hypothetical example of a possible limit for next semester would be a certain number of students allowed per class. If something like this is the case, then the university might have to cycle between which students can attend in-person classes. This hypothetical is one of many examples of what a “modified normal” may look like next semester.

According to Chancellor Frank, decisions regarding large events such as Blue Rah and the Backyard Bash are in process. Certain changes may also need to be made to the August commencement ceremony depending on how many people will be allowed in a room. Freshman orientations over the summer are also going to be virtual.

If UW–Stout is unable to reopen in the Fall, Chancellor Frank believes the university and students can take what they’ve learned during this time and create a new plan to accommodate for different circumstances.

“I hope we are able to come back from [the pandemic] stronger than who we were going into it,” she said. “I hope we take the experience and learning and apply it to who we want to be and how to operate moving forward.”

According to Chancellor Frank, the university’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has shown her what an incredible team, faculty, student body and staff UW–Stout has. Through this time, she learned that she made the right choice when choosing to come to UW–Stout.

While, as said by Chancellor Frank, this pandemic has been challenging, what she has learned from it is a positive. She also said she is excited to return to campus. “What so many of us love about higher education is seeing campus alive, and faculty and staff working together.”

Chancellor Frank also wants to communicate how proud she is of everyone. She wants to emphasize that the university is here for everyone always, including students that are graduating. If students need anything, they are encouraged to reach out to UW–Stout.

According to her, UW–Stout’s goal is to ensure students have hands-on experience in their classes. Even if courses continue to be online next semester, she believes that the university will use technology in an applied way to give students what they need.

“[The student body during the pandemic] have shown what it means to be a Stout student. You have tackled this; you have proceeded with a positivity and innovation that we all appreciate. […] You should be really proud of what you’ve all engaged in and travelled through during this period,” Chancellor Frank said. “We appreciate you, and we miss you.”