The Patriot Ledger // By Mary Whitfill // Published September 25, 2020
QUINCY — From individual “Zoom rooms” for professors to lab work in full personal protective equipment, things look different at Quincy College.
There are virtual kiosks throughout hallways to encourage students to call in rather than physically go to administrative offices, signs are on every wall reminding people to wash their hands and socially distance, and everyone who steps onto campus has to sign in, answer health questions and provide contact information for potential tracing.
While almost 90 percent of students won’t step foot on campus at all this semester, dozens have returned for hands-on lab work and more will filter back into classrooms in the coming months.
“We worked with the state guidelines and Ruth Jones, the city’s commissioner of public health, to put together a reopening plan we thought would work for us,” Chris Bell, chief of staff at Quincy College, said. “We sent it ahead of time to students via text and email and are doing the best we can to make sure our buildings stay safe.”
All summer, administrators worked to train professors to teach virtually, ensure the school’s technology was up to date and transition to online learning, but some classes couldn’t realistically make the transition to fully virtual classes.
In Quincy, students in the surgical technician, exercise science, medical lab technician and nursing programs have all returned to campus in some capacity.
In most of those programs, virtual-only learning is not enough to fulfill the requirements for accreditation.
“You can’t teach someone to do a surgical scrub or put their (personal protective equipment) on sterilely without meeting in person,” Nathalie Fulford, who teaches classes in the surgical technician program, said as she looked over a class of students outfitted in caps, masks, goggles, shoe covers and gowns. “Luckily for us, we did have a little bit of an advantage coming back in COVID because they’d be wearing all of this gear anyway.”
Surgical technician students each attend in-person labs for 4 hours, twice per week. They’ve been split into two cohorts, so no more than 10 students are in one lab room at a time.
“It was a little scary at first, but we were reassured we would make it work and still get everything we needed,” Samantha Young, a 22-year-old student, said.
The students are also on Zoom at least 2 hours per week, and Professor Ross Little has recorded all of the semester’s lectures to play for students.
“The lessons he would have given in person, he has painstakingly recorded them all, so students really aren’t missing out on anything,” Fulford said.
So far, the college hasn’t had any COVID-19 cases in on-campus students or staff. If someone does test positive, Bell said the class will switch to online-only for 14 days and lab hours will have to be made up later.
Quincy College is also participating in the state’s Community Tracing Collaborative offered to colleges. Bell said managing COVID-19 is less tricky at the community college because it doesn’t offer residences or have a dining hall.
Read the article and view photos: https://www.patriotledger.com/news/20200925/virtual-in-person-classes-resume-at-quincy-college