REDDING, Calif.–With the long-anticipated release of state guidelines for higher education, Simpson University confirms its plans to reopen for fall in-person instruction and residential campus life. The university has been working closely with county health officials as it moves toward a Sept. 7 start.
Classes will be offered in a HyFlex model, incorporating face-to-face instruction determined by physical distancing guidelines, as well as live streaming and recording of each class.
“We know that our students thrive in our uniquely community-based, personalized and experiential learning environment, and we are committed to providing this with measures in place to mitigate risks and promote safety,” President Norman Hall said. “We are thankful for our partnership with Shasta County Public Health and the advocacy of city and elected officials as we work together to ensure a safe return for students. Simpson University considers itself to be Redding’s hometown university, and we want to be conscientious neighbors as we offer programs and services that benefit the North State.”
The university first announced on May 5 its intention to move toward on-campus reopening, after an abrupt shift to remote learning in mid-March as pandemic concerns spread nationwide. Since that time, a COVID-19 taskforce comprising administrators, faculty, staff, and a retired physician/board member has met regularly to map out guidelines for safely returning to campus.
Simpson University has hired Capsid Consulting, an agency made up of doctors and researchers specializing in epidemiology and infectious disease management who advise several California hospitals and universities, to assist with daily guidance of operations.
Among other precautions, the university is implementing the following safety measures:
- Required COVID-19 testing of students and employees
- Required face coverings, physical distancing, and hand-washing
- Modified chapel programming and club activities
- Fall athletics conference competition moved to spring
- Outside and take-out dining service
- Classroom sanitizing
- Temperature screening stations
- Office-specific plans to limit foot traffic and minimize personal contact
- Plexiglass shields and signage
- Staggered move-in times for residential students
- Two-week “heightened safety protocol” period at the start of the semester
- Travel restrictions
- Limited-size gatherings
At this time, Simpson University is one of only a handful of Christian colleges and universities in the state planning to reopen for on-campus instruction.
“One of the advantages of our beautiful rural area is that we have not seen the spikes in cases that have put other counties on the state monitoring list,” Dr. Hall said. “Simpson University is fully invested in helping that trend continue in Shasta County.”
Despite the pandemic, the university is seeing an enrollment increase thus far over this time last year. This would mark the third consecutive year of increased enrollment at the university, which will mark its centennial in 2021. The university serves about 800 students total, including undergraduate, degree-completion, teaching credential and graduate students.
A student and professor from the university’s Betty M. Dean School of Nursing, ranked No. 7 among California nursing schools, are featured on a national Christian radio podcast talking about assistance they gave to Shasta County Public Health during the early days of the pandemic. Two nursing school alumna traveled to New York this spring at the height of the crisis there to help in hospitals overwhelmed with patients.
Simpson University continues to update its COVID-19 website as it finalizes details on its reopening and response plans.
Simpson University, a Christian university founded in 1921, moved to Redding 31 years ago and will celebrate its centennial in 2021. In addition to offering 20 majors in its traditional undergraduate program, the university has graduated more than 4,000 North State adults from its ASPIRE degree-completion program, and nearly 3,000 from its School of Education. It has a No. 7-ranked School of Nursing, a seminary, and master’s programs in counseling psychology and organizational leadership. Simpson University is recognized nationally as one of U.S. News and World Report’s Top 100 Regional Universities West. The university is launching new programs in digital media, computer information systems, and engineering, and recently added athletics programs in track and field, swimming and diving, women’s wrestling, and men’s volleyball, as well as a bass fishing team ranked No. 1 in California. The university has a highly ranked Veterans Success Center and partnership with the Army National Guard. Simpson University contributes an estimated $50 million annually to Redding’s economy. It offers aggressive scholarships and is working to better serve transfer students from community colleges through its commitment to Associate Degree for Transfer agreements. Learn more about Simpson University at simpsonu.edu.