Returning to campus, Post COVID-19: Our Approach
During normal years, discussing a return to campus plan all summer might seem a little excessive. But, as you know, 2020 has been anything but normal. This year we are planning to re-open for fall with a deliberate focus on staying open. We are working hard now so the community, students and families can be confident when students return to Marshalltown Community College on Aug. 24.
I wanted to highlight some of our work:
• You can be confident that student safety is at the center of every decision we make. Our plan has allowed us to slowly but deliberately welcome people back to campus. We know that each area was affected differently, but we also understand that our students hail from every corner of the state, country and throughout the world. We are making considerations for every aspect of campus life, from classes to student involvement, housing, and athletics.
• Promoting health and wellness is our first priority. We are requiring all students and faculty to wear face coverings in the common areas of campus, such as hallways, restrooms, and rooms where socially distancing is not possible.
• Ensuring quality learning and student success is an equally top priority. We are striving to offer classes in ways that meet student expectations and by using best practices for safety and social distancing. Most of our courses will be offered in our traditional modalities of face-to-face, hybrid, and online. The courses that typically have larger enrollments will be offered through a combination of classroom and zoom livestream with half of the students attending in person at a time. Faculty and our deans are considering every class structure to ensure that all courses will be rigorous and engaging regardless of the format. Often, student success lies in the hands-on learning components which must occur in a lab setting so we are adopting additional cleaning practices.
• We know that the Tiger fighting spirit is strong! The COVID-19 pandemic is being taken seriously by our athletic department staff and coaches, Iowa Community College Athletic Conference and the NJCAA. As such, a decision has been made at the national level to move the regular competition season for all six of MCC’s athletic teams to the spring semester. Student athletes will only practice and participate in a very limited number of scrimmages through the fall semester. The conference season for volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball will begin in late January with softball, baseball and soccer following later. Our coaches are working to minimize contact when possible, conducting athlete temperature checks prior to each practice and adopting cleaning practices for our athletic facilities and equipment.
• Because our first concern is creating a safe educational environment to serve our students in academic and workforce training programs we are not scheduling outside groups in our facilities at this time. We look forward to welcoming the community back when we are confident that we can maintain social distance and manage the increased cleaning needs. We are pleased to partner with the Marshall County judicial system as they will be providing their services at the Orpheum.
• With our focus on reopening and staying open, we are being proactive and cautious but we cannot create a sterile environment. We have developed cleaning and safety procedures and adapted to new guidance regularly. Nevertheless, everyone on campus will need to play their part by washing their hands thoroughly, using hand sanitizer, wearing protective face coverings and staying home when not feeling well.
We are so thankful to be a part of the Marshall County community and look forward to many strong and healthy years to come. Go Tigers!
Dr. Kristie Fisher is the Chancellor for the
Iowa Valley Community College District