College adjusts reopening efforts to emphasize ‘Responsibility & Respect’
LIBERAL — Seward County Community College has adjusted its reopening mode to require masks be worn on campus. The executive team decision comes in response to the increase of COVID-19 cases inSeward County following statewide lifting of quarantine orders. As the Fall 2020 semester nears, the college is focused on ensuring students, SCCC team members (faculty and staff), and the community can come on campus with confidence, said SCCC President Ken Trzaska.
“We take our responsibility in the community seriously, and we’ve known since March that the pandemic presents an ever-changing set of circumstances,” Trzaska said. “More details about our COVID-19 response plan will be available as we go along. The one thing we can say for certain is that it will include a need for flexibility on an ongoing basis.”
Beginning Monday, July 20, a mask will be required for anyone to enter the Seward County Community College campus. Visitors who do not have a mask may stop at the reception desk to obtain a temporary mask. SCCC team members may opt to work “mask free” in their individual offices, but “anytime you’re not alone, you need to put on the mask,” said SCCC Vice President of Student Services Celeste Donovan.
Donovan, who also serves as the Liberal Area Chamber of Commerce President, noted that local businesses have begun to require masks in order to protect the community’s ability to remain open for daily activities.
“It goes beyond personal preference. We know from existing data that wearing a mask in public can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. We all want that to be the case so that we can enjoy the company of other people rather than having to be isolated,” she said. “Maybe the need to wear masks won’t last the whole semester, but we would rather be safe than sorry.”
SCCC Dean of Instruction Luke Dowell noted that “we’re making decisions based on what we think is right for everyone, in the big picture. I’ll be the first to say, in the spring, I felt reluctant to picture requiring masks in the classroom, but as the summer has continued, we’ve seen more people, younger people, with the virus — and they’ve been gathering in open-air, outdoor events. Classrooms bring people together in an environment that’s more conducive to spreading the virus. So I’ve had a shift in perspective. I would rather wear a mask if it means providing a safer environment to go to class and work.”
Students have multiple options for the Fall 2020 semester, Dowell said.
“Some face-to-face classes will have a remote option built in, which provides that Blendflex flexibility and also creates a contingency plan for COVID-19 related situations,” he said. “For students who are immunocompromised, or who just don’t want to have to wear a mask, we have classes that are completely online, along with EDUKAN. We’re trying to find a balance that meets the many different needs.”
For more information about enrolling for the fall 2020 semester, call 620-417-1101 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.