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Moving Forward:
Changes ahead for fall, summer quarters at mcc

As the second summer quarter session gets underway, all MCC locations have updated their safety protocols to reflect current guidelines. Chief among these changes is a move to a mask-optional policy while on campus for those fully vaccinated.

Disposable masks will still be available at Student Services locations and their use is strongly encouraged for those not fully vaccinated or who wish to wear one.

Summer and fall quarters will also bring  more in-person courses, as well as plenty of online and blended courses. For in-person classes, students will now only have to maintain three feet of social distancing instead of six feet.

For hands-on classes, like many trades courses, these small adjustments to campus protocols make a big difference, says Jacquie Armstrong, associate dean of Construction Education.

“We have adjusted the class capacity accordingly which has been a big part of getting students back on campus. Masks are optional, but they are still encouraged. It’s not like you can’t wear a mask in the building, but it’s not a requirement,” Armstrong says.

Armstrong says the past year required adapting and flexibility, something her staff displayed quite well.

“We would check your name off and make sure your mask was over your nose and mouth. Vending machines and water fountains were closed. All lobbies were closed. You were to come in, do your hands-on parts of your course and leave. The rest of the classes were being done via video conferencing.”

And while that worked well and teachers went above and beyond teaching virtually, Armstrong says there is no substitute for hands-on work.

“Students need to physically swing the hammer and see what that feels like,” she says. “It’s a skill, not simply knowledge.”

The COVID-19 pandemic did see many students enjoy the options and flexibility of more online courses, McDonnell says. When the fall quarter begins, she says the College intends to keep offering a variety of course delivery.

“One thing we learned from the pandemic is that some students liked the flexibility and the human touch of live online classes with synchronous Zoom meetings at appointed class times. We anticipate offering those types of sections going forward, so that students have options. For fall, students will have a full range of options including online, hybrid or blended, on-campus, and live Zoom sessions.”

For students who may be nervous to return to campus after time away, McDonnell says that safety practices will still be in place and aren’t going away any time soon.

“We will continue cleaning surfaces and encouraging safe operations,” he says. “We have hand sanitizer located inside each campus and center. Additionally, the College invested millions of dollars in air handling and air filtration that’s designed to trap and eliminate droplets that may spread the virus. According to the CDC and other health authorities, vaccination is the best defense against contracting this virus.  In response, there are vaccination sites on MCC campuses.”

Armstrong says that students coming to campus for the first time or returning for the first time in a while should know that MCC is doing everything to keep them safe.

“We still have the hand sanitizer. We are still encouraging people to use it. Those things aren’t going away. We are still encouraging you to use gloves and to sanitize the hand tools between classes,” Armstrong explains. “We have always been concerned about student safety and we will continue to be concerned about student safety. We want students safe. We don’t want them injured, nor do we want them to get sick.”

To stay up to date on the College’s operations, visit mccneb.edu/coronavirus. For those unsure about their comfort level or class format, McDonnell encourages connecting with an advisor.

“We have systems in place to help students be successful,” he says. “The best advice I can share is that students should connect early with an academic advisor who can help line up other student supports we offer at the College.”

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