State College System, Independent Colleges Share Back-To-School Plans

LINCOLN – Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts was joined by representatives from Nebraska’s state colleges and private institutions of higher learning during his back-to-school press briefing series.

From the Governor’s hearing room in the Nebraska State Capitol Monday, Dr. Paul Turman, Chancellor of the Nebraska State College System along with Darrin Good, President of Nebraska Wesleyan University were in attendance.

Governor Ricketts opened the press briefing by reminding Nebraskans to continue practicing social distancing guidelines.

“When you go out in public, keep that six feet distance between you and other people,” said Ricketts. “Wear a mask when you go to a store, make sure you wash your hands often for 20 seconds at a time, if you see a crowded bar or restaurant good opportunity to go pick another place to go. Those are all things that we can do to help slow the spread of coronavirus here in our state.”

Updated numbers in Nebraska showed 41% of hospital beds available, 38% of ICU beds and 82% of ventilators are available. Coronavirus patients are taking up less than 4% of ventilators and similar for hospital beds.

Chancellor Turman leads the three state colleges of Chadron State College, Peru State College and Wayne State College. He added faculty will now be taking attendance.

“We’re also taking a very alternative approach to saying that we’re not going to penalize students for not coming to class,” Turman added. “We want them, if they’re not feeling well, if they have symptoms that they’re feeling that they have every capacity to be able to stay isolated and then come back when they’re ready.”

State Colleges notified their students in June about proceeding with in-person delivery for the Fall of 2020 academic year before compressing their calendar.

President of Nebraska Wesleyan University, Darrin Good mentioned all of the 13 private colleges and universities who belong to the Council of Independent Nebraska Colleges Foundation (CINCEF) have worked in unity addressing issues with the pandemic.

“We’ve shared best ideas, we’ve collaborated on how to put together processes and protocols collectively with the CINCEF,” Good mentioned. “In order to collect our needed requests for PPE including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc. from the state.”

Over 35,000 students are served among the colleges and universities and over 30% of the bachelor’s degrees earned from the group are from one institution. The Council of Independent Colleges generate $1.4 billion a year and employ over 14,000.

Another press briefing will be held on Thursday, August 13 in regard to community colleges.

Hear Monday morning’s press briefing (question/answer session not included) below.