LIBERAL, Kan. — In response to steep increases in COVID-19 cases in the community, Seward County Community College will limit public access to campus beginning Nov. 30 when students return from Thanksgiving break.
SCCC President Brad Bennett said the decision focuses on reducing the number of people routinely on campus following holiday gatherings and travel. Civic groups, social gatherings, and athletic scrimmages will not be permitted on campus beginning Nov. 30.
Our goal is to use necessary measures so we can continue to provide a quality education.SCCC President Brad Bennett
Thanksgiving break runs Nov. 25-27. In-person and online classes will meet the week of Nov. 30, followed by final exams Dec. 7-9, and winter break Dec. 23 through Jan. 3.
The college is also encouraging limited traffic on campus. Prospective students who need to visit SCCC may do so by scheduling an appointment with the admissions department, 620-417-1100. Other visitors are asked to schedule appointments, or to stop at the welcome desk in the Hobble Academic Building before proceeding to other locations such as the student union, humanities building, allied health, cosmetology, or agriculture buildings.
At the Industrial Technology campus, located at 2215 N. Kansas Ave., visitors may call ahead (620-417-1652) and stop at the main office, accessible from the northwest doors before proceeding to various departments. At the Colvin Adult Learning Center, 530 N. Washington, visitors may call ahead (620-417-1313) and stop at the main entrance upon arrival.
By limiting the number of people who are present on campus, the COVID response team hopes to slow the spread of the virus.
SCCC Registrar Alaina Rice confirmed that the ACT test scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12, will be administered as planned. This exam is part of the college application process for high school students.
“We have learned how to proctor this test safely, with social distancing and masks, according to recommendations from the College Board,” she said.
The SCCC mask mandate remains in effect for everyone on campus.
“We understand there are many different points of view about masks, but our choice is to leave politics out of it, and focus on what we hear from our county health professionals,” said Bennett. “They have had positive things to say about our approach and do not feel it is contributing to viral spread.”
Meanwhile, “we have encouraged our SCCC students to limit travel and exposure by offering them the option of completing their last week of classes online, and even take finals online,” said vice president of academic affairs Luke Dowell. “Around 50 of our dorm residents chose this approach, so they will be at home with their families until spring semester begins.”
Chief Information Officer Louie Lemert and his team have been working nearly around the clock in order to strengthen wifi systems on campus, and ensure connectivity for students wherever they may be.
“The IT department is working to provide equipment for faculty to provide for all eventualities, migrate and increase our wireless support to give students more options, and attempting to purchase and install equipment for future programs as funds are provided with a short turn ‘use it or lose it’ basis,” said Lemert.
In Liberal, the college will keep student housing open as usual, the cafeteria will serve meals as scheduled, and all faculty will continue to teach and maintain office hours. Vice President of Student Services Celeste Donovan noted that many departments have shifted to a split schedule with some employees on site and some working from home “in order to ensure we always have someone available to help students with the enrollment process,” she said.
Additional steps have been taken to prepare the campus as a whole for the return from holiday break, noted SCCC Vice President of Finance and Operations Dennis Sander.
“Our facilities team will replace all the filters in our ventilation systems, and we have ordered air purifier units for classroom use as the cold weather settles in,” he said.
“The COVID landscape is changing constantly, sometimes overnight,” said Bennett. “Our priority at Seward is safety, followed by the ability to remain open. We know that SCCC plays an important role for students and the community.”