DUBUQUE, Iowa – When students settle in for classes at the start of the 2020-21 academic year, they will do so in a format that is most suitable to them both in the classroom and across campus.
With the introduction of Loras Flex, students will have options available, both in how they learn and their overall experience.
“We believe Loras Flex is a creative and accommodating way to proceed given the varying needs and desires of our campus community, however within the appropriate health boundaries related to the overarching pandemic,” Loras College President Jim Collins (’84) said.
Course instruction will be provided both in-person and online. Students wishing to complete their work entirely online will have that option. Students wishing to return to the in-person classroom setting will be able to do so with a reduced number of students in the physical classrooms to allow for a minimum of six feet of social distancing. To accommodate this approach, courses will be taught in a hybrid format, with some students attending online and others in class during class times on a rotating basis.
“We understand that students want and need flexibility so they can achieve their educational goals during this unusual time,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Donna Heald, Ph.D., said. “Regardless of whether a student is taking courses in a hybrid format or totally online, instruction will occur in small classes taught by faculty dedicated to student learning and professional development. Our plan—by design—requires students to be fully engaged in the class, including discussion, group work, and other activities at the scheduled class time with the instructor and other students.”
Class start and end times will be staggered to cut down on the number of students moving around the campus at one time. Regardless of their choice, students will continue to benefit from a high faculty-to-student ratio that provides plenty of engagement with Loras faculty.
According to Heald, the flexibility in the delivery of instruction will continue throughout the academic year. “Given the fluid nature of the current situation, we realize that some students may need to change to a different method of delivery once the semester begins. We will work with the student to help make the transition seamless. Just about every course offered is set up for both online and hybrid delivery.”
In addition to the classroom, the overall campus experience is open to each student’s comfort level. All students are welcome back to the campus residence halls if they so choose. For those attending classes on campus, they also may choose to commute to Loras if they prefer.
The campus dining experience will also see changes from previous years. Seating capacity in all campus dining areas has been reduced to ensure social distancing and smaller group gatherings. Meal stations have been set up to offer more options to reduce movement. Quick meals will also be offered for on-the-go dining.
Despite all these changes, Loras has frozen tuition for the upcoming academic year, so no additional costs will be incurred for attending in 2020-21. For students that are selecting to go entirely online, there is a reduction in student program fees. For students opting to live at home, their cost of attendance has gone down, so there may be some reduction in their need-based aid.
The financial planning team has been reaching out individually to families who have been significantly impacted by the pandemic, to learn more about their circumstances and to leverage additional funds where possible.
“We understand the challenges that many families are experiencing and that the financial impact may not be fully realized for some time,” Senior Vice President Mary Ellen Carroll, Ph.D., said. “The financial aid team remains attentive to listening to our students’ needs and will continue to find ways to be financially supportive of students across the coming academic year.”
Learn more about Loras Flex as loras.edu/flex