An artist's rendering of the novel coronavirus. - Image from Pixabay.com.

Provost Anthony Lowman, the senior vice president for academic affairs at Rowan University, says that he is optimistic looking into the school’s future. However, Lowman also wants to ensure that health and safety are the school’s top priorities moving forward through the semester and into the rest of the academic year.

“My hope is that we can continue the semester safely and that we can move into a spring semester that we can start up and continue safely. Going forward, my hope is that in the springtime we start to see safe treatment options [and safe and effective vaccines] start to become mainstream, and that we can go back to doing some of the things that we do well,” Lowman said.

Although Lowman is an optimist and wants to make as much of the face-to-face college experience available as possible, he is concerned with maintaining a safe campus for students above all else.

While many students would certainly prefer to have a more typical college experience, Rowan is doing everything it can to offer more on-campus activities. Just recently, Rowan began to allow its fall sports teams to practice together on campus, even though games are suspended indefinitely.

“Driving out the other day and seeing the baseball team and groups working out on the field was so nice to see,” Lowman said. “These are the college experiences that our students need.”

“We wanted to give them at least the start of the experience and if we can maintain this safely, then we’ll look at one of the next steps and I think all of the schools and our peer-groups are doing the same thing,” Lowman said.

Lowman also ensured that Rowan has guaranteed safety measures in place, such as the Triad isolation facility and the school’s ability to track and trace to make Rowan’s on-campus activities possible.

“We have all the abilities to handle cases if they were to arise, and we have all of the safety measures in place with our on-campus activities,” he said.

While the provost is doing everything he can to be proactive in allowing more in-person opportunities for students, he says that the school is ready to take away those allowances if student safety is at risk at any point.

“Just like we’ve moved forward with classes, more on-campus experience, more face-to-face classes, we have to be ready to roll those back at any time,” Lowman said.

Moreover, he is very proud of how well Rowan’s students have adapted to this change and commends them for following the correct protocols to make campus safe.

“Our students have done a tremendous job of being responsible on campus,” Lowman said. “Your behaviors are exactly why we were able to add more on-campus experiences.”

He also mentioned how Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, commended Rowan’s student behavior. Dr. Birx visited Rowan last week and was impressed with how well the school has safely adapted to the pandemic.

“She met with groups representing the pandemic response team, which is something we use on campus, and then she also met with some students, some faculty representatives and some community leaders, just to hear what we’re doing but also to talk about best practices,” Lowman said. “She commented that everywhere she looked…students were doing the right thing, and that’s important.”

According to Lowman, as long as students continue to practice safety on campus, more opportunities will arise for on-campus activities. He is also confident that, even though the school is approaching the spring semester the same way as the fall semester, Rowan will offer more face-to-face classes for the students who want them.

“When we open up registration in a few weeks, if you are a student that wants these face-to-face experiences, you’ll find them. You might not have a completely face-to-face schedule, but you’ll be able to find the face-to-face opportunities for your classes,” Lowman said.

Overall, Lowman commended Rowan’s students and looks forward to a future on campus when the school will safely get back to normal.

“I know this is an incredibly challenging time, but…we’re going to [get] through this, I think, stronger, more resilient as a group, as a community, and I look forward to big things,” Lowman said. “It’s tough to see the end of this, but I know it’s going to come, and we’re going to be as safe and opportunistic as we can be through the next couple of months, and when we get through this, we will do great things. But for now, continue to stay safe and be responsible.”

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