By Mike Kruzman /

As the situation stands now, Cleary University is planning to re-open in the fall with a larger emphasis on online-learning.

Interim President Emily Barnes said they are preparing to have on-ground courses this fall, but at fixed capacities and with safety measures and procedures in place to better protect students and staff. Like with other colleges and universities, there have been a lot of twists, turns, and unknowns for Cleary staff in what is coming in the future. But Barnes said this has also presented them with the opportunity to evaluate how they might serve their students better.

A big supporter of online learning, Barnes said that that is something than provides greater access and equity in terms of having a different lifestyle while in school. This could particularly benefit adults returning to school to get a higher education. Barnes told WHMI, though, that they have to do it the right way; meaning that if they take the time and expertise to design a learning environment for that particular setting, she says it can be a wonderful learning experience. To simply take what they do on-ground and put it online, though, won’t have the effect they are looking for.

Barnes said that at Cleary they take a lot of pride in their online learning environment and are highly intentional at making sure that what they put out serves the students as best they can. Classes start August 24th in-person and in multi-format form, but the online learning will be put to the full test following Thanksgiving. Recognizing that many students travel over the Thanksgiving break, to reduce the risk of spreading the illness, the final 3 weeks of all classes for the semester will be finished remotely.

Barnes said the one thing they hope to do with students and staff through all of this is to stay connected, engaged and in relationships with each other as they navigate through these unknown times.