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Students return to UW-Stout; adjusting to changes amid pandemic

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Menomonie (WQOW) - It's yet another first day of school: this time, for students at UW-Stout.

Like nearly every educational institution this year, the start of this semester looks a bit different than year's past.

At first glance, the start of classes at UW-Stout may look like a typical beginning of the semester: regrouping with friends, finding your first class, and getting back in the swing of things after the summer vacation. But at second glance, the syllabus for this semester is far from standard.

"Students are masking both indoors and outdoors, social distancing, large group events are canceled, there simply won't be any of those this entire semester," Sandi Scott, the Dean of Students at UW-Stout, said when listing various safety measures taken this semester. "Plexi-glass is up everywhere, hand-sanitizing stations everywhere, in and out of buildings; we're asking students to tap in and tap out. There's cleaning and disinfecting in classrooms and conference rooms and other places."

After months of planning for a safe, successful semester, Scott said she's hopeful students can adjust to this new layout.

"It feels great to finally see all our planning sort of come to fruition is so exciting, it's just the best feeling in the world to see students back," Scott said. "We really need students to do their part, but I believe our students will."

For the most part, students are adjusting.

"It's nice, but it's a whole different semester this year: wearing masks, maintaining social distancing in class," said Varshil Mehea, a sophomore at UW-Stout.

Other students, however, are unsure of how long in-person classes will remain a part of the curriculum.

"I can understand like, 'everybody stay home.' That's fine, I can understand," said Noah Flaata, a senior at UW-Stout. "But at the same time, I hope it kind of has this little bit of in-between, because based on my major, I want to be able to come here and use the more powerful computers than rely on my laptop."

This semester, 50 percent of all classes at UW-Stout are online, 44 percent are in-person, and six percent are a hybrid. For each in-person class, seating charts are in place and students are socially distanced.

Professors said they are just excited to be back in the lecture hall, and off of the Zoom call.

"I think it'll be a good semester," said Scot Vaver, a business and marketing professor at UW-Stout. "I think there will be a few challenges, but we'll overcome them. I think that's just the attitude we're gonna have to have."

McKenna Alexander

McKenna Alexander is the weekend anchor and a multimedia journalist for News 18. She started in June 2019. She was born in San Francisco, but spent the majority of her life growing up in Dallas.

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