Hesston College sees enrollment bump, plans spring grad ceremonies

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Debbie McAllister teaches an in-person entrepreneurship class Thursday at Hesston College.

As schools continue to struggle with how to adapt educational services during a pandemic, Hesston College saw something a bit unusual when students began to gather for interterm and spring semester of the 2020-21 school year.

Hesston College experienced a mid-year enrollment rise as students returned to campus and participated in a two-week modified quarantine.

New student enrollment increased by 32 from fall to spring. The school also reported an increase in the number of international students on campus. According to the school, students arrived on campus from other countries after electing to stay home during the fall, choosing instead to begin their on-campus experience in January.

All Hesston students provided proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted in the week before they returned to campus. As with fall semester, Hesston College provided single rooms for all students residing in dorms.

Once on-campus students returned to the dorms, Hesston initiated two full weeks of modified quarantine. All students stayed in their rooms unless working on-campus jobs or practicing with an athletic team, music ensemble or other college-sanctioned performance group. Classes were delivered virtually, and students took their meals to their rooms to eat.

At the close of modified quarantine on Jan. 24, Hesston had no known active COVID-19 cases among its dorming or commuter student populations. Students resumed socially distanced classroom learning on Jan. 25.

During spring semester, every Hesston student will complete an app-based self-screening each morning, and all campus community members reporting COVID-like symptoms will be evaluated and, if necessary, tested with the college’s new on-campus rapid testing machines.

Along with a compressed spring schedule, the college is planning to conduct its 2021 commencement and nursing pinning ceremony online in the event an in-person celebration isn’t possible.

“As a high-touch institution, our preference would be to celebrate these students in person,” said Carren Moham, associate academic dean. “We owe it to our graduating students to plan commencement activities that honor their achievements and protect their health and wellbeing. In the event that COVID-19 remains a threat to the safety of our students, faculty and staff, we will plan a lovely virtual ceremony to celebrate this milestone.”