Higher learning institutions in southern Colorado continue to adapt with pandemic

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.– Colleges and universities across the state are getting ready for the upcoming fall semester but the pandemic continues to take a toll on enrollment rates while prompting new requirements for students, faculty and staff.

“It’s changed our approach to campus operations and I’m certain it’s changed our community and many of our students,” said Dr. Souder Hodge, Chief Strategy Officer for Colorado State University Pueblo.

The Colorado Department of Higher Education has yet to release their enrollment data for 2020 and 2021, but a spokesperson with the department says community college enrollment in the state is mostly down, while enrollment at four year institutions vary.

University of Colorado Colorado Springs is no exception with enrollment down by 2.8%.

“This past year with we saw a little dip and we are expecting a little dip this year, but we think it’s related to COVID, people and out of state students not able to travel here,” said Chris Valentine, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications at UCCS.

As of now, UCCS will be requiring masks regardless of vaccine status and all students, faculty and staff will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine and fill out a form. Exceptions can be made.

The majority of classes will be in person or a mix of hybrid learning.

“We found out, some classes work better in a remote environment, and some work better online,” said Valentine.

CSU Pueblo following a similar learning model and at this time masks will be strongly recommended.

“We have 18 months under our belt but it’s still our first pandemic and every day is kind of a new discovery that is for sure,” said Dr. Hodge.

CSU Pueblo announced earlier this year vaccine requirement will take place this fall all depending on approval by the Food and Drug Administration, but an approval from them has yet to happen.

“We’re going to be adding as a country, I think one more vaccination into this standard list of things we are vaccinated for,” said Dr. Hodge.

The Colorado State Board of Education continues to deliberate on how they will allocate $132 million they were given by the federal government for COVID-19 relief, a decision is set to come later this month.

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