As we all know our state, including our region, moved to Phase Four of the pandemic on Friday, June 26. Guidance for operations from the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board was completed and approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health and released just three days earlier. Now, of course, comes the question — what does this mean for our college?
I wish I could say it means we are back to normal operations. But we cannot be. Guidance for us still requires six-foot social distancing, limits spaces to gatherings of 50 or less, requires health screenings for all who come on to campus, and the wearing of masks. Unfortunately, we are extremely limited in classrooms that can accommodate the six-foot distance. Staff have meticulously reviewed the possibilities along with the greatest need for use of that limited space. We have courses that must have face-to-face components. We have courses that might better serve students in a face-to-face environment. These considerations, along with many others, led to the decision to offer four different teaching modalities for the fall. There will be our regular face-to-face and online courses. There will be remote courses using Zoom-like delivery, more like the traditional offerings. And finally, there will be flex courses that are some combination of the other three. No matter the modality we start with, all must be ready to move to distance offerings on very short notice. Phase Four could be rescinded at any point pending another spike in the COVID-19 virus. Deans are working with faculty to make decisions on specific modalities and teaching assignments. Students will be hearing from student services staff and/or faculty with more specifics about their course modalities in the very near future.
Our divisions will have some staff returning. Some will be back for the foreseeable future. Some will be rotating — all based on their area of responsibility and maintaining distancing. There will be extremely limited visitor access, and those should be done by appointment.
Supervisors, HR and Administrative Services will all be reaching out with more details on what operations will look like. Please watch for their emails and stay updated through LincIn. Our facilities staff continues to maintain our campus and support us in maintaining a safe environment.
Each decision that is made about operations is being carefully evaluated with focus on safety, published guidelines and student needs. We are all in this for long haul. Pending a vaccine or even more improved treatment regimens, it could be next year before we return to normalcy as we used to know it. In the meantime, LLCC faculty and staff will continue to retain positions and be paid so that we take care of students and each other. I hope each of you and your families are doing well. Remember to reach out to each other to give support and encouragement that we all need to get us through these trying times.
Charlotte Warren, Ph.D.
Lincoln Land Community College