DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College announced Wednesday that in-person courses will run during the fall 2020 semester, on-campus residence halls will be open and the institution will operate as normally as is reasonably possible while maintaining safety, according to a news release.

This spring and summer the college moved all classes, library and tutoring services online within days without losing instructional time. The college also kept residence halls open through the end of spring semester, provided supplemental meals for residents, offered partial refunds to all housing students and celebrated a virtual commencement for graduating students last month, the release added.

According to SMC President Dr. Joe Odenwald, “The success of our students is our driving mission; we know that while online coursework provides valuable learning, the personal interaction between students, faculty and staff – and a total college life experience – is important to their personal growth and academic achievement.”

Odenwald continued, “It is our intention to operate as normally as is reasonably possible for the fall 2020 semester, heeding the guidance of government and public health officials and presuming that MERC Region 3 (Kalamazoo Region) remains in at least Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan. We will have in-person and online-hybrid courses, a variety of events and a residential experience for those needing and wanting to live on campus. However, please understand that this will require all of us to rethink our interactions and adopt additional safety measures. Of course, we cannot predict with certainty the course of the pandemic during the semester. If updated government or health department guidance recommends additional safety protocols, we may need to step back to a more restrictive stance.”

The college has posted specific details about the fall 2020 semester on its website, at swmich.edu/coronavirus. While SMC is confident in this path right now, plans are subject to change as conditions require. The Pandemic Preparedness Task Force continues to research and discuss other areas of college operations and will communicate additional decisions when appropriate.

Applications are still being accepted for the upcoming semester, and housing is still available, officials noted. Prospective students can apply for free at swmich.edu/applynow.