Hesston College students return to campus amid strict COVID-19 protocols

President Joe Manickam addresses Opening Weekend crowd, August 14

After months of planning and preparation in response to the ongoing COVID-19 virus pandemic, Hesston College opened its doors to new and returning students last week.

The college marked the return of students to campus with an Opening Celebration on Friday evening, August 14. This year’s event was held at Sieber Soccer Field on campus.

“We are Hesston College,” President Joe Manickam told the socially distanced crowd. “This field is not Hesston College. That building is not Hesston College. You, me, flesh and blood, created in God’s loving image, together: we are Hesston College.”

And together, Hesston has approached COVID-19 with a careful protocol for returning.

All incoming students completed online self-screening a week before heading to campus, and students arriving from areas with widespread community transmission quarantined in Kansas for 14 days prior to moving in. The college provided meals and housing for quarantining students. Students began arriving on campus on Tuesday, August 11. The college staggered move-in times across six different dates, and on-campus students moved into single rooms. Staff and faculty greeted students and parents with a temperature check at a drive-through screening area.

Hesston College moved to online learning on March 23 in response to the growing pandemic. Most students stayed home for the rest of the semester, while some stayed on campus in single rooms. All completed their semester classwork online.

Manickam noted that the world won’t go back to the way things were. But “God is here with us,” Manickam said. “I want you to lean on God. Feel God’s presence in those around you. For you are not walking alone.”