Gateway developing a ‘new normal’ as students return to campus
ONTARIO, Calif. -- A return to on-campus education marked the beginning of the fall 2020 semester at Gateway Seminary. However, this is not a continuation of routine practices said Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway.
“We are establishing a new normal at the seminary,” he said. “Our mission remains the same, but we are finding and executing new ways to accomplish that mission during the Coronavirus pandemic.”
The months preceding the new semester have been largely developmental at Gateway — staff have adjusted policies, modified budgets and trained for various pandemic-related scenarios.
“It has been a busy summer at Gateway,” Iorg said. “We have made a number of changes focused on ensuring students’ health and safety as they continue their ministry training.”
The seminary has increased access to distance course delivery for students. In a typical semester, a limited number of students could register to attend an on-campus class through a live video conference feed each week. This fall, the limits on remote attendees to on-campus classes have been lifted and some classes will be offered exclusively through video conferencing. “More than 60% of Gateway students have registered for online or remote access courses,” Iorg said. “That represents a significant increase in distance learning delivery at Gateway.”
Additionally, any student registered for a face-to-face class has the option of attending weekly sessions remotely if they feel unwell or are concerned they have been exposed to COVID-19.
For students attending in person, classroom layouts have been adjusted to accommodate social distancing. Multipurpose spaces such as the chapel and the board room have been converted in order to accommodate classes with more students. New cleaning procedures are in place to sanitize classrooms and other shared spaces on campus, and copper-infused table coverings have been applied throughout the building. Hand sanitizer stations have been added throughout the campus and facemasks are available for students who do not have one.
“We learned many things about creating and sustaining course delivery in difficult circumstances during the past spring semester and the summer term,” Iorg said.
Staff refined new procedures over the summer and successfully practiced them when students in Gateway’s Ph.D. and Th.M. programs returned to campus August 17-21 for a week of seminars. Staff also used the summer to prepare to transition all on-campus courses to distance-learning delivery should local or state regulations require it.
“I have been impressed by the staff’s ability to handle major change while staying focused on the mission,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how inconvenient or difficult a set of circumstances may be — they are ready to train men and women to lead gospel ministries around the world.”