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WNCC Announces Updated Safe Operating Procedures for Fall Semester

WNCC Announces Updated Safe Operating Procedures for Fall Semester
(Murphy/KNEB/RRN)

As the start to the Fall 2020 semester rapidly approaches, Western Nebraska Community College has updated it’s Safe Operating Protocols (SOP) guidelines that allow students, faculty, and staff a safe transition back to on-campus instruction.

The SOP outlines WNCC’s policies, guidelines, and protocols in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. WNCC has taken all precautions necessary to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and promote safe learning environments for WNCC students.

“After months of planning and preparation, we are thrilled to welcome our students back for face-to-face instruction this fall,” WNCC President Dr. Carmen Simone said. “The pandemic response team at Western Nebraska Community College came together to produce a thoughtful set of standard operating procedures with health and safety in mind. We benefited tremendously from the guidance provided by Panhandle Public Health District and we are grateful for their support. We stand ready to serve our communities, knowing that conditions are fluid and our protocols may need to change during the semester.”

Beginning Aug. 10, all students, faculty, staff, and patrons will be required to wear a facial covering while in open areas on all three WNCC campuses, including classrooms, labs, common areas, and restrooms. Faculty and staff do not need to wear masks while in their personal work spaces or offices. Students are not required to wear masks in their own residence hall rooms.

Students and employees will be asked to self-monitor for COVID-19 related symptoms and should not report to campus for work or class if they feel ill. An electronic screening process will be made available to WNCC employees and students to allow easy monitoring.

WNCC encourages all to follow social distancing guidelines and practice good hygiene to limit exposure or close contact to other individuals. Panhandle Public Health District (PPHD) defines close contact as “being within six feet of another person for more than 15 minutes.”

In addition to the newly adopted requirements for students, faculty, staff, and visitors, WNCC has spent the summer preparing all three campuses for on-campus instruction. Plexiglass sneeze guards have been installed throughout all three campuses’ walk-up counters and service lines. Hand-sanitizing stations have been placed throughout common areas for regular use. Prior to the start of the fall semester, occupancy limits of shared spaces (classrooms, meeting rooms, common areas) will be altered and posted in those areas, and appropriate social distances will be marked on the floors of high-traffic areas.

Classrooms have been modified and reconfigured to ensure that students can maintain six feet of social distancing while in class. To accommodate the decreased capacity of the classrooms, WNCC will utilize overflow rooms so instruction can be delivered to students via Zoom and other blended technologies.

The residence halls have been limited to one student per room, and all residence halls are currently at capacity for the fall semester. Student check-ins will be conducted outside and staggered to ensure that social distancing is being followed while students are moving in. Bishop Dining Hall will also be spaced to follow social distancing, and all self-service stations in the cafeteria area have been removed.

WNCC’s contracted cleaning service provider, FBG Services, will continue conducting routine cleaning of high-traffic areas to decrease the spread of germs and disease. FBG and WNCC have worked in conjunction to develop a strategy to regularly disinfect classrooms.

WNCC understands that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a fluid situation and the protocols outlined in the SOP are subject to change at any time. Students, faculty, staff, and patrons when necessary, will be notified of any changes to the SOP.

Classes for the fall semester begin August 17.

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