LIBERAL — Seward County Community College instructors turned in final grades at noon Friday, marking a successful semester with in-person teaching. No big deal, right? Add the ongoing pandemic, and that achievement shines a bit brighter.
“I’m just so proud of everyone on our campus for making the efforts we did to stay open for classes,” said SCCC President Brad Bennett. “The students were amazing about wearing masks and everything we asked of them.”
The individual choices made by faculty and staff also permitted SCCC to remain open through finals, unlike many peer institutions and state universities.
“Our focus has been to provide what students need,” said SCCC Vice President of Academic Affairs Luke Dowell. “Everyone at Seward, from the maintenance staff who have put in heroic efforts, to the instructors, who sometimes carried what felt like a double load with online and in-person teaching, has been focused on making sure our students can succeed.”
Dowell said that same approach underpins the plan for Spring Semester 2021, which begins exactly one month from the Fall Semester end date.
For the first week of classes, beginning Jan. 11, SCCC will offer classes in remote format only, with in-person instruction to begin Jan. 19, the Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Using COVID-19 relief funds, Chief Information Officer Louie Lemert and the IT staff purchased new laptops with webcams for faculty members to move between online and in-person teaching with ease.
Between the two semesters, added Vice President of Finance and Operations Dennis Sander, the maintenance and grounds crews will go the extra mile, replacing air filters in the college ventilation systems, and installing portable air purifiers across campus.
To further ensure safety after holiday travel and gatherings, the college will also perform COVID-19 testing on all dorm residents, requiring those students to quarantine for a limited time while awaiting the results.
“We made this plan working closely with Seward County Health Department officials, and we appreciate all their help,” said SCCC Vice President of Student Services Celeste Donovan. “They are on the phone with us daily, and it provides the feedback from health professionals that we need.”
For now, however, administrators and faculty are thankful to close the grade book and take a short breather. SCCC employees were given a frozen pie of their choice by the college executive team, and the Saints Bookstore offered employee specials all day Friday.
College offices will remain open through Dec. 22, with regular hours of 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. It’s the ideal time for students to wrap up year-end billing questions and enroll for spring, said Donovan.
“Admissions, financial aid, business offices, and the registrar are all open for another seven business days,” she said. “We are excited about spring, and encourage students to re-enroll for another great semester.”