ACC braces for returning students — and COVID

Allen Community College is taking steps to ensure the safety of students and faculty when classes resume in August amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Administrators also are preparing for scenarios in which classes must be delivered online only.

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July 16, 2020 - 10:04 AM

The seats in Barclay Lecture Hall at Allen Community College are marked with smiley faces to help promote social distancing. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

With the fall semester looming, Allen Community College is bracing for the return of students amid the threat of COVID-19.

As of now, the plan is to reopen both the Iola and Burlingame campuses, and to restart online courses, while taking an extensive series of precautions.

The fall semester begins Aug. 17.

With the campus crowded, and the county’s mandate in force, masks will be required for students and instructors while in class.

According to vice president Jon Marshall, this will become part of “a new practice [or] culture” at ACC, while giving students “as much time with instructors as possible.”

The college also is looking for ways to provide free cloth masks to each student.

Students traveling to the campus from out of state and out of the country, especially athletes, will be tested for COVID-19, but they will not be responsible for paying for their own tests.

“This gives us a sense of relief, to be able to test,” said vice president Cynthia Jacobson, who noted the test to be administered has been approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Jacobson also noted “we’re encouraging students to bring a thermometer” in order to take their temperatures regularly, and staff is encouraged to do the same.

Those students required to quarantine upon arriving on campus will be tended to by the college, with either meals being delivered to them at their rooms or a strategy put in place for pick-up.

Periodic checks on students will take place as well.

According to college officials, “quarantine” does not mean students cannot leave their rooms, unless they have explicitly tested positive for COVID-19. For most, it simply means not interacting in-person with the rest of the student population.

Beyond quarantine, it is unclear at this time what steps will be taken for any students who test positive.

ACC president John Masterson said, “I think someone should go to the hospital or go home,” as “we’re not equipped to handle that.”

Adjustments are being made in ACC’s classrooms as well, including the Barclay Lecture Hall, whose seats have been marked with smiley faces to promote social distancing.

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