After moving entirely to remote learning to end the 2019-2020 academic year, North Central plans a return to campus for the student body for the upcoming fall semester.
North Central Plans for Safe In-Person Learning
As currently designed, the plan will call for primarily in-person learning on campus, which will be done with meaningful modifications to the experience according the the College’s President, Troy Hammond.
One aspect key to limiting the spread and reducing the risk of COVID-19 for the on-campus community is a rigorous testing program that North Central is implementing.
“We have a significant testing program that is being finalized and launched where we will be doing a certain amount of testing on a regular basis for higher risk groups and then random sampling testing across the campus on a fairly regular basis” says Hammond.
North Central is currently working with a local health provider to secure tests for the college’s disposal on a weekly basis.
The allocation of, and course of action with, the tests is still under review. A portion of the tests were previously designated for interscholastic competitions. However, the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Athletic Conference’s Council of Presidents recently announced it’s decision to suspend the fall sports season.
Another way to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 within the campus community is to modify living arrangements. North Central has multiple dorm options, but have restricted them for the coming semester to only two students per room. North Central has also reduced furniture in social gathering areas to discourage large group gatherings. Many of these measures are being put in place to follow guidelines set forth by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s office and other state and local officials.
“We are absolutely attentive to the guidelines that are coming down from the Governor’s office, the Department of Health and the CDC. All of those protocols and recommendations – we’re very on top of all of those. And all of those are being factored into our plans to make sure we’re in compliance with the expectations” says Hammond.
North Central plans on making modifications to how it will provide dining services on-campus:
- Wellness checks for dining service employees prior to the start of each shift and the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment, including face coverings;
- Enhanced cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting protocols;
- Buffet-style self-servicing will be discontinued until further notice; all meals will be served by Chartwells associates;
- Pre-packaged meals will be available as to-go options;
- Layout and space modifications and hours of operation modifications will be made in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines and capacity restrictions within dining locations;
- Kaufman Dining Hall will have expanded hours; The Cage, Moe’s and the Boiler House will be open with adjusted hours;
Remote Learning Still a Possibility
While the goal is to have primarily in-person learning this fall, situations may arise where remote learning will have to be available. Essentially, North Central is adopting a “learn from anywhere” approach that includes in-person, remote and blended learning options. Faculty and staff have the option to instruct and work remotely. Members of the campus community who test positive will also have continuing access to educational courses remotely while quarantining.
Remote learning has attracted detractors at all levels of the educational system after the method was employed in March across the country. But President Hammond draws a clear distinction between the lesson plans instituted in the spring and those contingency plans laying in wait for the fall.
“This fall is different than the spring. In the spring, we had to really, on a dime, pivot and go from what was fully an in-person experience to a fully remote experience, which is not North Central’s core model. We’re built around creating opportunities for that personal interaction.”
Preparing for All Situations
North Central currently has 115 staff, faculty and students working to form protocols for any situation that may arise. As students prepare to arrive on campus, the College plans to employ the hashtag #TogetherNC to signify the work that must be done by every member of the campus community to keep people safe. Additionally, students will be asked to review and sign a pledge to uphold the safety standards and guidelines put in place.
At this time, North Central has not had any reported on-campus case of COVID-19 since March 22nd that President Hammond was aware of.
For more information, visit the Residence Life and Dining page on North Central’s website
Kevin Jackman reports for Naperville News 17
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