Column: Eastern Iowa Community College's plan to reopen its doors

Column: Eastern Iowa Community College's plan to reopen its doors

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Our community colleges are critical infrastructure that provide essential education and training that is vital to rebuilding our economy and ensuring that our people and communities not only survive but thrive. We educate and train the skilled workforce that our businesses depend upon, from healthcare workers, first responders, and truck drivers to skilled trades, manufacturing and IT professionals. We will be key to retraining for the recently unemployed that will be required to restart our economy. For these reasons, the Eastern Iowa Community Colleges are re-opening our doors in a careful and measured way.

Beginning May 26, following the best guidance of our public health officials, we will provide students with necessary services to complete the enrollment process for summer classes on-campus, including in-person advising, financial aid, registration and business services, along with the bookstore. Fully online classes begin the same day.

Campus-based Summer term classes begin June 1, featuring our flexible new delivery system, LIVE online, that combines online learning with scheduled face-to-face class meetings delivered via Zoom, and on-campus learning labs and hands-on training when required by courses and permitted by health and safety conditions.

To provide a safe environment in which to work and learn, for the first weeks of the term, EICC will provide reduced hours of service with fewer staff working shortened hours on rotating shifts, while others continue to provide services remotely.

Employees will undergo health screening upon entry, including temperature checks, and students will be welcomed on campus by appointment, checked-in, and provided education about safe behaviors required on campus. Face masks will be required to be worn at all times by all faculty, staff and students. The campuses will be physically arranged to ensure social distancing, plastic partitions for front-line reception and staff, metering of the number of individuals in any enclosed space at one time to no more than 10, ubiquitous access to hand sanitizing and wash stations, and frequent cleaning and sanitizing of campus facilities.

As the summer progresses and community health conditions improve, we will gradually increase staffing levels and hours of service, while also maintaining health and safety best practices. We anticipate a busy summer enrolling students for a fully operational Fall term, which will include courses and programs delivered in multiple online and face-to-face formats depending upon conditions at that time.

Our colleges provide critical services to the health of our communities, now more than ever. We provide a safe, local, low-cost and high-quality option for those needing to re-engage in pursuit of their educational goals. Following best practices and with the cooperation of our students, we are confident we can resume providing these essential services to change lives and grow our communities and economy safely. This is our commitment as the community's college, for there’s no place like EICC.

Don Doucette is the chancellor of the Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, which includes Clinton, Muscatine and Scott Community Colleges.

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