Doane University students using the great outdoors as their classroom

Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 5:04 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Doane University students added a new item to their school supply lists this year- lawn chairs.

Each day, all across campus you’ll find classes being taught outside, as some professors’ answer to social distancing.

“It gets a little hot, but at least I’m able to be able to be in the class and not in a Zoom call,” junior Aidan Mendoza said.

Mendoza’s Corrections class, taught by sociology professor Nathan Erickson, was spread out in Doane’s open air theater Friday morning.

“In Zoom you can create community,” Erickson said. “But it’s harder to keep track of everyone on the screen, I think it’s easy for people to tune out.”

At Doane, professors were able to choose how they wanted to hold classes. Some are spread out in larger classrooms, some are over Zoom and some are outside.

“We wanted to be flexible and create an opportunity to listen to folks and let them have agency over this decision making,” Jake Elswick, vice president for enrollment and student experience said.

Erickson said he didn’t feel safe holding in person classes, so being outside has been a happy medium.

“I remembered why I teach,” Erickson said. “It’s to have that bond and relationship with students together.”

These precautions are on top of others like mask requirements, restrictions on some activities and grab-and-go dining.

The university currently has four COVID-19 cases out of 990 students, but Elswick said because of these precautions, not many have had to quarantine.

“I feel really confident in our ability to finish this semester,” Elswick said.

The students tell 10/11 NOW they feel safe.

“I think it’s maybe better,” junior Katie VanLaningham said. “I like being outside. It’s easier to focus and just let nature do its work.”

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