By Mckenzie Moore
After moving students home early and rapidly shifting classes to an online format, Colorado Mesa University (CMU) and the Technical College of the Rockies (TCR) will be offering in-person classes once again in the fall, even if safety precautions make them look a little different. In addition to following all current public safety guidelines from the state and local health departments, both schools are implementing their own measures for students and staff.
For CMU, the process has been ongoing to ensure a safe return to class for both off-campus and resident students, implementing the “Safe Together, Strong Together” program.
“I think that the scope and breadth and detail of our plan is important for parents to be familiar with. It’s been an all hands on deck endeavor,” said CMU Media Relations Director David Ludlam. “The good news is that we have what I think is a pretty innovative solution.”
Students and staff will be required to wear a face covering while in academic buildings and attending class, shared equipment will be discouraged, workstations will be spaced 6 feet apart whenever possible and maintaining social distancing will be encouraged on campus with signs and some tables or chairs being closed. Reservations will also be required for residence hall move-in.
In order to return to campus, all CMU students, faculty and staff must also be tested for COVID-19. A testing site is available on campus as well as at other locations throughout the state, and at-home test kits are also available for those unable to travel to an in-person testing site.
As of July 31, 2,049 tests were completed across all testing sites for CMU students and mail-home and third party tests. Of those, 1,096 tests have resulted in four positive cases.
“The most important thing is getting that test completed,” Ludlam said. “About 50% of students have their test scheduled, and for others, they don’t wait too long to get that set up.”
Incoming or continuing CMU students will receive regular updates and information on what they need to know to return to campus. Ludlam also said that CMU aims to answer all questions and maintain clear communication throughout the process, encouraging students and families to reach out and stay updated with meetings, livestreams and announcements.
“Whether it be testing, establishing new protocols for classrooms, adjusting curriculums, reworking how dining services look, we’ve looked at every facet of campus life and made adjustments and modifications to it to make it as safe as possible,” Ludlam said.
TCR has also been putting plans into place to allow students to return to their programs, including the new Heating/Air Conditioning Service Technician program. TCR has been working with local health departments, the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the Colorado Department of Education, and will continue to stay updated with their guidance moving forward.
“To keep everyone on TCR’s campuses safe, we are implementing a number of safety precautions, including the full utilization of the cohort model: our students will interact on a daily basis with only each other and their teacher,” said TCR Director Allen Golden. “Our precautions that have been put into place include wearing masks and following social-distancing protocols in our classrooms and on campus.”
TCR students must complete a daily check-in, which includes a temperature check. Masks and hand-washing will be required, along with social distancing guidelines and the closure of indoor student common areas.
The TCR campus will be closed to the general public, with only students, faculty and essential staff permitted in the buildings. Appointments are required to enter the administration/front office.
“The good news is that we have had success already with this model,” Golden said. “We have had small groups of students on our campus for several months following precautionary measures and have had zero instances of COVID-19 cases to this point. We will continue to operate campus in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of our students and staff.”