ACC clear of COVID, plans for fall

Allen Community College plans to have in-person classes this fall, but it's yet to be determined when certain buildings will reopen to the public.



May 13, 2021 - 9:30 AM

The Allen Community College campus north entrance. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

ACC remains clear of COVID-19.

No new cases or quarantines have been reported for the past month, said vice president Cynthia Jacobson.

She added that vaccinations might be available for students returning in fall, and it was noted  a “significant” number of staff had been vaccinated already.

There is currently no plan, however, to mandate vaccinations for students or staff.

The jury is still out on whether masks will be required on campus after this summer, though ACC is planning on having regular in-person fall classes. There are no in-person classes being offered this summer.

It is yet to be determined when certain college buildings will reopen to the public, such as conference rooms used by local groups like Rotary.

English instructor Erik Griffith speaks to the Board of Trustees on behalf of a colleague whose contract was not renewed. He was joined by instructor Katie Mitchell and five students.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Tuesday night’s meeting began with a tense episode, where two instructors and five students spoke out against a recent decision by the board of trustees to not renew the contract of physical sciences instructor, Matthew Antonik.

English instructor Erik Griffith, as well as social sciences instructor Katie Mitchell, read from prepared remarks wherein they expressed concerns with administrative overreach and called for reconsideration of the board’s decision regarding Antonik.

Mitchell added that she, too, plans to leave ACC, citing concerns regarding the dynamic between administrators and instructors.

Despite the appeals, the move to dismiss Antonik was not reversed.

In other news, following the retirement of Barbara Anderson, Ken McGuffin agreed to resume his old board post until a replacement could be elected.

As part of the goal of “educating outside the classroom,” Josiah D’Albini said that one of the activities planned for campus moving forward is an international foods night, which will feature cuisine from countries including Brazil and Australia.

One weirdly interesting tidbit gleaned from the meeting was that, legally, the college is still named Allen County Community College (ACCC).

It was also learned that the college sometimes foots the bill to fly in prospective athletes for campus visits.

According to vice president Jon Marshall, the college hopes to reinstate its biology club, and ACC has received multiple applications for the new faculty position in agriculture and livestock judging.

On a humorous note, vice president Jacobson said that 190 schools were accidentally notified of ACC’s awards night, but it turned out well because many students/schools received recognition who may not have otherwise gotten it.

During her report, dean Tosca Harris talked about improving relationships between the college and area schools, especially Iola District 257. She spoke specifically about offering more dual-credit courses and creating more opportunities for shadowing/job training.

Speaking of job training, Windsor Place has reopened its doors to ACC student workers, many of whom are interested in nursing careers.

The fate of the Burlingame campus remains unclear, with president John Masterson saying that administrators plan to engage in serious discussion over the matter moving forward.

The board approved the purchase of two Ford Fusion vehicles from Twin Motors for $25,332, and briefly discussed the possibility of the college selling some of its land to an interested party.

They also approved the purchase of new security cameras for inside the main buildings, accepting a bid from Sandifer Engineering for $21,754.

With additional recovery dollars on the way, thanks to the America Rescue Plan, trustees also debated buying several other items, including an interactive digital campus map, remote health services and a “chatbot” that would answer questions through the college’s website.

They ultimately decided to go ahead with the interactive map and health services.

A new opportunity will be available to students in the form of the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act, recently signed into law by Gov. Laura Kelly.

The program “provides scholarships for students to attend an eligible postsecondary institution for any two-year associate degree program, career and technical education certificate, or stand-alone program otherwise identified by the Kansas Board of Regents.”



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