GCU INsider: Students will have it made in the shade

Editor’s note: This story is reprinted from the August issue of GCU Magazine. To read the digital version of the magazine, click here. The GCU INsider is an annual feature that provides a snapshot of the new academic year.

GCU Magazine

What will the classrooms look like?

Under the blended learning model, most classrooms will be at 40-50% capacity to create appropriate physical distancing. Students will be assigned to receive face-to-face instruction from their faculty member one day per week, accompanied by a second day of synchronous learning that will occur remotely through LoudCloud in the same time slot of the corresponding day. Courses that require more hands-on work will meet in person regularly, and safe environments will be created. The University also is creating additional classroom space.

Students will be encouraged to get outdoors this fall as much as possible.

INsider tip: “Time management and active participation are the keys to success in this active learning model – you can gain the most by logging in and being there, actively engaged with your faculty and peers. You will be amazed by how much you learn in the first three weeks of this model and how well you will know your fellow students, your course materials and your faculty when you show up to the face-to-face experience.” — Dr. Hank Radda, Provost

What intramural sports will be available, and will the fitness centers and swimming pools be open?

Cornhole, pickleball, badminton, tennis, sand volleyball, nickel softball (like normal softball but three teams of five players at once with one team at bat, second team in the infield and third team in the outfield) and esports (Madden, NBA2K, NHL, MLB, FIFA) will be available in the fall. There will be hand sanitation before and during game, temperature checks before game play, cleaning of equipment and social-distancing markers for spectators and team benches. There’s more information on the new campus recreation portal, myrec.gcu.edu. Appointments will be required to use the fitness centers and pools.

INsider tip: “We feel confident this will still provide plenty of ways for students to have fun on campus, compete in recreational sports and provide a safe and healthy atmosphere to do so.” — Matt Lamb, Director of Campus Recreation

What will be the setup for Chapel?

Attendees will need tickets (they’re free, of course) to gain access to one of four sites – GCU Arena, Canyon Activity Center, Antelope Gymnasium and the church. The Arena, which will be mainly for freshmen, and the CAC will have live bands; the other two will have the broadcast on screen. Unfortunately, The Gathering on Tuesday nights had to be suspended temporarily, but life groups still will meet.

INsider tip: “All the Chapel locations will be adhering to the proper social distancing. Everyone will be in pods of four or five, and they’re all going to be spaced out.” — Braelyn Armenta, Director of Spiritual Life

GCU Softball Stadium would be a nice place to enjoy dinner while another spectacular Arizona sunset.

What’s the plan for campus events?

A number of Welcome Week events are being planned for Sept. 25-26, and then students will be kept busy all the way through the semester. But think small – most events will be limited to 10 or fewer people. Major events have been postponed until the spring semester.

INsider tip: “Students love the big events, but the thing they love the most is the relationships and the community that they experience, and that doesn’t necessarily happen in huge events. I think they’ll be really excited and grateful for the opportunity just to be with their peers, even if it is in a modified way.” — Danielle Rinnier, Assistant Dean of Students

Will there be more places on campus to eat and relax outdoors?

GCU is expanding its outdoor seating areas in three ways. First, tables, chairs and picnic tables are being added to existing shaded areas on campus, such as the North Rim Apartments area. Second, shaded areas are being increased with seating and both permanent and temporary shade structures near the center of campus (Lopes Way and Promenade) and near eateries. Finally, students are encouraged to use the seating in the soccer, baseball and softball stadiums.

INsider tip: “Grab your lunch to go, grab your friends and kick back in one of the stadiums. Plenty of room for physically distancing while eating and keeping cool.” — James Kossler, Vice President of Facilities Planning and Operations

Any new buildings to go with the new shade?

Ponderosa Apartments, at 29th Avenue and Camelback Road, is the only completely new building, but the top two floors of Student Advising Services (Building 18) also were finished – there are 10 classrooms on the fourth floor and faculty offices on the fifth floor. The recently acquired church building and annexes at 31st and Camelback will be used as classrooms for the first semester. Also on the horizon are three more apartment buildings and a parking garage at 29th and Missouri avenues.

INsider tip: “There’s lots to love at Ponderosa. The parking lot right in front provides easy access to the building for residents, plus the new amenities of the Herd Stop and Antelope pool are within walking distance.” — Elizabeth Sparks, Resident Director, Ponderosa Apartments

How is GCU going to help students and employees stay engaged with the community outside campus?

The departments of University Relations, Strategic Employer Initiatives & Internships, and K12 Educational Development are working together to ensure students, employees and alumni still can connect meaningfully with partner organizations. Ground students will be able to attend virtual career fairs offered through Career Connections along with ongoing academic and career support options. Alumni and employees will be connected with organizations in a separate virtual capacity.

INsider tip: “With technology, innovation and a passion for purpose leading the way, we’ll continue connecting capacity to need in the #GCUheartofPHX.” — Debbie Accomazzo, University Relations Manager

Can students be tested for COVID-19 on campus, and how can students obtain masks?

Tests (free with a copay) will be available at the Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic for students who request them as well as those who are symptomatic or have been identified through contact tracing as being a high-risk exposure to someone who has tested positive. Surveillance testing can also be administered if there is a high concentration of positive cases in one area (for example, a dorm floor). At this time, GCU is planning on providing three reusable/washable masks to all students for free. Students may bring additional masks from home or purchase them through the Lope Shop. 

INsider tip: “Do your part by using a mask, protecting yourself and others in your community. If you feel sick, stay home, isolate and get tested.” — Marcus Castle, Emergency Preparedness Manager

Public Safety personnel devoted their time this summer to helping with GCU's effort to produce personal protective equipment. (Photo by David Kadlubowski)

What will the mask protocol be?

GCU is following requirements of Maricopa County and the City of Phoenix to wear masks in public or shared spaces. Currently, that means masks must be worn in classrooms, restaurants and other indoor community spaces as well as outdoor setting where physical distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible. Face coverings are not required within a student’s living quarters or outdoor settings where physical distancing is possible.

INsider tip: “Masks and distancing will support a low spread of COVID, allowing a more recognizable campus experience.” — Connie Colbert, Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic

What will the visitor policy be in residence halls?

In order to protect campus residents, overnight guests will not be allowed in the residence halls, and daytime guests will be restricted to other campus residents with an active housing booking. Any other guests, including commuter students and off-campus guests, will not be permitted inside the living areas except active helpers at Move-In and Move-Out.

INsider tip: “GCU Public Safety welcomes all students back to campus this fall. Our employees stand ready to answer your campus-related questions, and we are open 24/7.” — Charles Miiller, Assistant Police Chief

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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel — I will celebrate before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:21)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/