May 18, 2020
Written by Public Relations & Communications Strategist Jill Wilson
Augustana announced today its Viking Flex Plan for Fall Semester 2020, with classes set to begin on campus in late August. The university plans to proceed with a hybrid/flexible approach, which will include both face-to-face and virtual components to most courses, and reflects a commitment to in-person curricular and co-curricular experiences for the university’s students.
The Viking Flex Plan was developed by an 18-member Scenario Planning Task Force, which was charged with evaluating various scenarios for operating in the fall amid ongoing uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force has prioritized the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff while applying careful consideration to how the physical spaces and interactive culture of the campus community can be modified to accommodate the current situation and fulfill the university’s mission of providing an education of enduring worth.
Augustana University President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin said, “In preparing to serve students on campus in the fall, we are focused on how to responsibly adapt learning and living environments and modify operations in ways that clearly adhere to broadly accepted public health guidelines while also creatively nurturing community and affording safe opportunities for face-to-face interactions among faculty and students.”
As part of the Viking Flex Plan, Augustana will hold in-person classes beginning on Wednesday, August 26, through Friday, November 20. The plan involves beginning classes a week early and forgoes a fall break in order to allow students to return home by Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, the university will transition to a brief period of online instruction that will allow for innovative course engagement, creative projects, as well as a safe and successful finish for course instruction on Friday, December 4.
Scenario Planning Task Force Chair and Director of International Programs & Enrollment Ben Iverson said, “The plan allows us to retain what is best about an Augustana education, while being prepared to make any adjustments as needed. I’m humbled by the amount of time and effort that really smart people are putting into this plan. The taskforce evaluated nearly 20 scenarios; the Viking Flex Plan is the best path forward for our students and campus community.”
The Viking Flex Plan will emphasize in-person learning while following recommended physical distancing and other guidelines. Augustana’s success with this plan depends on the cooperation of its entire community. Therefore, the university will implement an enhanced educational program for everyone on campus that promotes health and safety guidelines for managing COVID-19. The Scenario Planning Task Force will continue to work throughout the summer, assisted by our community partner Sanford Health, as the university also continues to monitor and integrate public health recommendations from the South Dakota Department of Health (SD-DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Augustana’s Risk Assessment Team also continues to meet daily to discuss, identify and implement precautionary measures so as to prevent the spread of illness and respond effectively to changing local conditions.
For more detailed information and updates related to the Viking Flex Plan, please visit augie.edu/vikingflex.
For information and resources related to COVID-19, visit augie.edu/coronavirus.