Students in field

FinnU Safe-Distancing Sub Committee Prepared for Fall Semester

August 26, 2020

When alumni talk about what they enjoy most about the Finlandia experience, it always revolves around the extra effort faculty and staff put into providing a great experience. This year, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, is no different.

Finlandia’s faculty and staff across campus have gone above and beyond all summer to help prepare the university for a safe face-to-face instruction this fall.

The Chapel of St. Matthew has been converted into a socially-distanced learning space for the Fall 2020 semester.

“Over the past three months I have worked every day, literally, to improve the safety of our campus through safe distancing efforts,” said Associate Professor of History Dr. William Knoblauch, who is also a member of the safe-distancing sub committee. “Of course, this is a team effort, and maintenance has been involved. My colleagues Ric Loduha, Dr. Jeff Pettibone, and even my Dean, Dr. Jason Oyadomari, have helped out. Additionally I know that Erin Barnett was in charge of purchasing PPE and that I believe Dr. Fredi de Yampert was central to the baseline testing efforts.”

As a member of the safe-distancing sub committee, Dr. Knoblauch has been involved in numerous projects to prepare the classroom setting including:

  • Identified which chairs can be used in our larger auditoriums, and which should be left empty for safe distancing.
  • Helped to solidify our safe open plan and policies.
  • Identified the maximum capacities for classrooms on campus.
  • Directed the removal of desks to ensure safe maximum capacities.
  • Suggested one-way traffic for hallways less than six feet in width.
  • Suggested outdoor instructional spaces.
  • Acquired, with assistance from International School of Business Dean Kevin Manninen, free mask fabric supplies from Stormy Kormer.
  • Ordered, cut, bent, and installed numerous pieces of plexiglass throughout campus.
  • Initiated a DIY Air Filtration project to remove particulates from classroom spaces. This project was supported through a Thrivent Action Team Project.
  • Physically reorganized classroom spaces.
  • Identified new classroom spaces to be used for larger classes such as the Leroy Keranen Conference Room in the Jutila Center, St. Matthew’s Chapel, the Finnish American Heritage Center and the College of Health Sciences (CHS) Auditorium.
  • Repurposed tech equipment for instructional delivery across campus.
  • Cleaned up the CHS auditorium, with the help of Dr. Carolyn Dekker and Dr. Pettibone, for our largest classes.

“I think that the faculty and staff value our students’ safety above all else,” said Dr. Knoblauch. “They recognize that unlike at larger Division I universities, we assume a responsibility to pitch in and get things done, and not that others will magically do it for us. That’s one of the things that makes Finlandia special: Those people who volunteer to help out in a timely fashion. They put our students first.”

Read more about Finlandia’s Safe Open plan at finlandia.edu/safeopen.

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