May 4, 2020 : COVID-19 update

Gradual reopening orders will not begin at SCCC until mid-late May

LIBERAL, Kan.  — Seward County Community College campus will take a cautious approach in following state trends to reopen. Following Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s announcement Thursday evening that the “stay at home” orders will expire at midnight Sunday, with many other state orders remaining in place, SCCC intends to limit access to campus at least through the end of the month. Kelly also introduced her “Ad Astra” plan to reopen the state entirely by summer, including clear benchmarks to be met that will determine the rate of return to normal.

State policy permits county health officials to adopt more stringent restrictions within their jurisdictions when the state orders expire. The SCCC executive team and board of trustees recommended that the college remain in a remote operational mode for the time being.

“Seward County has one of the highest rates of infection in Kansas, with 21.4 people per 100,000, so we must respond accordingly even if the statewide feeling is a desire to ‘get back to normal,’” said SCCC President Dr. Ken Trzaska. In Kansas City urban Wyandotte County, by contrast, the infection rate is 3.7 per 100,000 people. Total infections in Seward County passed the 450 person mark earlier this week, and, as of Friday morning, totaled 527.

Health departments across the state continue to implement more widespread testing, including “drive through” stations, in order to keep a close eye on the viral spread in hot spot counties like Seward. As more testing and tracking data is gathered, Kelly said, “I am incredibly proud of how the people of Kansas met the moment and answered the call to hunker down,” Kelly said. “It has been a difficult time that has taken a painful toll … financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually and professionally on Kansans,” Kelly said. “But because Kansans took this seriously, COVID-19 has inflicted far less devastation on Kansas than it did in other states.”” 

Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, SCCC sketched out a plan to begin moving back to on-campus functions on Monday, May 18. Details have not yet been announced for that timeframe.

Trzaska listed further details in response to the pandemic:

  • For summer sessions to make up lab work and to complete in-person courses, SCCC will maintain groups gatherings of less than ten (10) people on campus. All such arrangements will be made by individual program instructors with notification to SCCC grounds and maintenance/security staff in order to schedule proper disinfection. Note: this may change if safety concerns elevate.
  • The SCCC executive team is suggesting that large gatherings (including civic club and social events) on campus be suspended through Aug. 1.
  • The Liberal Bee Jays organization, which operates as a separate entity but hosts games at SCCC’s Brent Gould Field, has not yet announced its plans for the semi-pro summer baseball leagues.
  • As part of the State of Kansas’ efforts to track and contain spread of COVID-19 cases, unoccupied housing buildings might be used as emergency housing for families of infected individuals, located remotely from regular SCCC work and student operations. In those cases, the State of Kansas will assume responsibility to provide security, case management, and HAZMAT disinfection services for any campus locations affected.
  • Summer classes will be offered remotely in hybrid form (theory/lecture online; laboratory sessions held face-to-face on campus following strict social distancing protocols).  Two summer sessions are currently scheduled, with session one beginning May 28; session two begins June 1.
  • Enrollment for fall 2020 coursework is open as of May 1.

For further updates to the COVID-19 response at SCCC, follow our scccnews.com blog, our Seward County Community College Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, and local media.

To read Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan in its entirety, visit  https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Reopen-Kansas-Framework.pdf.

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