College begins spring semester with modified quarantine, rise in enrollment

Business prof Debbie McAlister leads a discussion in Entrepreneurship class.

Despite a continued global pandemic, 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 semester. Many of those 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 test conducted in the week before they returned to campus. As with fall semester, Hesston College once again provided single rooms for all dorming students.

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 their 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 Dr. 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.”