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Kent State Officials Praise School's Reopening During Pandemic

Kent State Board of Trustees special meeting
Kent State Board of Trustees had a virtual special meeting on the university's reopening plan Wednesday.

The Kent State University Board of Trustees came together for a special meeting Wednesday to give a progress report on the university's re-opening for the fall semester.

Kent State officials and board of trustee members largely praised the university's pandemic response and re-opening this fall, saying it built on safety measures started in the spring and summer semesters.

"We developed a strong re-opening plan, and now we continue to work that strong re-opening plan," Kent State President Todd Diacon said.

Safety protocols like mask wearing and social distancing are working, but the university has a plan in case of an outbreak, he said.

"If we go remote, fully remote, at some point in this semester that will not be a failure," Diacon said. 

University officials talked about expanding COVID-19 testing on campus in the future with the possibility of testing asymptomatic students. No timeline or details on who would be able to get tested were provided.

When it came to the possibility of opening up campus to more students and faculty this spring, Diacon said it's an open question.

He compared making decisions about the future during a pandemic to walking a tightrope through a fog.

Enrollment drops

Kent State University announced enrollment for 2020 is down just more than 3% this year.

Diacon told the board of trustees the drop is not nearly as large as many expected during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

"In early May, just a few months ago, our year-to-date enrollment was trending down 17.9% on the Kent Campus," he said.

Enrollment on the Kent campus is down 3.2%, while the university's regional campuses are faring better, with an enrollment drop of just 2.7%.

About 60% of Kent State’s classes are online during the fall semester.