Glen Oaks moves to online learning for rest of fall semester

CENTREVILLE — With four weeks left to go in the fall semester, Glen Oaks Community College President Dr. David Devier said in a statement that many of its campus-based classes will be moving online in an effort to adjust the college’s response plan and control the COVID-19 pandemic on campus.

The news comes as positive cases in St. Joseph County continue to rise, with over 450 reported since Oct. 23. In total, as of Friday, there have been 1,431 total cases of COVID-19 in St. Joseph County since the start of the pandemic.

“At this point eleven weeks into the fall semester, the challenge is mounting. In recent days, as the COVID numbers have increased in St. Joseph County, the efforts have increased to continue to control it on campus,” Devier said. “With four weeks remaining in the semester, the plan is to move most of current campus-based classes to online.”

Devier said exceptions to this include technical courses and nursing and allied health offerings for laboratory components. It is unknown if the move to online will continue during the spring semester.

“As we move to all online classes for the remainder of the semester, the experiences from the spring have prepared all of us for this possibility,” Devier wrote.

Since the college began reporting COVID-19 cases in late August, at the start of the fall semester, there have been six students that have tested positive, with two cases reported the week of Oct. 25-31. With the latest two cases, 23 students and two employees were quarantined.

Devier detailed how the college has handled COVID-19 since the pandemic began, beginning with their closure of campus on March 17 and the move of most instruction to online, calling it a “herculean effort.” He explained the campus during the summer only had physical plant staff and essential workers in residence, and many student services were handled online. Late summer saw a campus deep cleaning, Devier wrote, as well as reallocation of large campus spaces converted to serve larger classes with social distancing.

When classes began on Aug. 31, Devier wrote, “hundreds” of masks were passed out, every classroom and gathering space was equipped with cleaning materials, daily health screenings were initiated for employees and students, and COVID quarantining protocols were put in place.

“Once classes resumed, it became apparent that everyone was taking the situation seriously.  Students wore their masks and limited close gatherings,” Devier wrote. “Faculty and staff set the example by following all Health Department guided procedures and serving the students well.”

Overall, Devier wrote that students and staff have responded “admirably” to the challenges of the pandemic.

“GOCC students, faculty and staff have responded admirably to this once in a century challenge,” Devier wrote. “The most important point to make as we work through this situation, is that students have been and will continued served well which is the core of the college mission.”

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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