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The American Association of State Colleges and Universities awarded Northwest for its response to the pandemic. It was one of three universities to receive an award for their pandemic response.

The AASCU selected Northwest to receive its 2021 AASCU Excellence and Innovation Award for Campus Pandemic Response in the rural category. This is the fifth time in seven years that Northwest has won an award from AASCU.

University Police Lt. Amanda Cullin, a member of the Crisis Management Team 2, a team responsible for monitoring COVID-19 at Northwest was among the individuals officially honored.

“We collaborated with our community partners, places like Mosaic Hospital, the Nodaway County Health Center, the State of Missouri Senior and Health Services,” Cullin said. “We worked together well with faculty, staff and students and created these Green Teams.” 

The Green Teams are 13 different groups made up of faculty and staff that are designed to respond to aspects of COVID-19 and its effect on the University.  

When accepting the award, Northwest President John Jasinski credited faculty, staff and students for doing their part during the pandemic. 

This recognition validates our approach and deployment thereof, as well as Northwest’s role model status. The unbelievable hard work, dedication, perseverance and resilience of our student body and entire faculty and staff are truly the hallmarks of this recognition,” Jasinski said in the AASCU Excellence and Innovation awards speech.

The University adapted to the pandemic as more information became available from state and nationwide data. The adjustments started with not having students come back from the 2020 spring break and switching all classes to an online format. At that time, a measure was put in place that kept students from dropping more than one grade level than what they had.

This was followed by having a campus-wide mask mandate and blended classes during the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. Students spent roughly half of their class time over Zoom and the other half in classrooms. This change was to allow for more social distancing inside the classroom. 

The University implemented all of these changes to adapt to constantly developing information and guidelines for how to best combat the pandemic. 

Cullin said the ability to adapt to change was a driving force to keep students and faculty safe.

“The thing about this pandemic is that things have changed. We have seen different guidelines sent out, and we have done our best to adapt to the new guidelines in order to fight COVID,” Cullin said. 

The most recent campus guidance regarding COVID-19 includes requiring face coverings in classrooms, but not in common areas where social distancing is possible. Cullin said that decision is based on data and does not contradict the University’s previous work on following medical guidelines.

“We base all of our decision on that data, as well as recommendations from our medical partners. And based on the information we had, we made that decision,” Cullin said. “We were also expecting a small increase just because, historically, we have had that small increase during this time. It's the cold and flu season.”

Nodaway County Health department has reported that the county has seen a 3% increase in confirmed cases increase 11/8 and 11/15 Nodaway County had . 


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