The coronavirus pandemic disrupted life on campus for East Central College staff, faculty and students.
After weathering the storm of transitioning to an online and remote platform, ECC is now implementing a Back to Campus plan beginning this week to slowly return to a new normal for the fall semester.
ECC released the plan for its Union campus and Rolla sites last week, explaining that the three-phase plan was developed by an ECC leadership team, with the goal of “safely easing back into normal operations for the fall semester.”
President Dr. Jon Bauer told The Missourian that this plan was developed with the intent of students returning to campus for in-person classes this fall.
The college will reopen in phases. Each phase has a scheduled time frame.
Phase 1 began Monday, May 18, and will end Tuesday, June 30. During this time campus is closed to the public.
All summer courses will be held remotely/online with the exception of on-campus labs that are limited to science and allied health courses.
The computer lab will be closed to students for walk-in use, but may be available by appointment.
Other areas of ECC, like the Learning Center and Testing Center, will be available online. Those who wish to have an in-person experience will have to make an appointment.
Student services like advising, admissions, etc., will require appointments for in-person service.
Students are required to wear a mask before entering the building for their appointment.
The book store will remain open limiting it to five customers in the space at a time.
Other areas like the ECC cafeteria will remain open. The Fitness Center will be closed for student use.
According to Bauer, the fitness center will remain open for “faculty and staff to use during their lunch hour.”
Lastly, during Phase 1 employees will begin to return to campus for work, with all employees returning to campus at the beginning of phase 2.
Phase 2 will run from Wednesday, July 1, through Sunday, Aug. 16.
The campus will remain closed to the public during this phase.
During Phase 2, the campus will expand to allow for more on-campus communication with students, but maintain online/remote options.
Most of the college’s operations will remain the same as in Phase 1 with the exception of the Learning and Testing centers opening for normal operations.
Bauer said the college will begin holding discussion on what the fall semester will look like.
On July 14, the college will announce decisions on the fall semester in terms of extracurricular activities, and the commencement ceremony for the 2020 spring graduates.
Bauer added that by July 14 ECC will have a better idea of what will happen with its athletics for the fall semester as the college anticipates guidance from NJCAA by that time.
Phase 3 will run from Monday, Aug. 17, through Sunday, Dec. 31.
During this last phase, campus life will return to a somewhat normal traditional setting.
Courses will still be available online and remote, but a wide range of courses will be in-person, seated classes on the ECC campuses.
Bauer explained that while the college is planning to host in-person classes for the fall semester, he recognizes that the coronavirus pandemic is an ever-changing situation.
“While working with the facility to implement this plan, there was the realization that this situation is beyond our control,” he said. “I think we will have a better idea of what to expect this fall by July, but if there is a resurgence of this virus we are prepared.”
Bauer said the benefit of going through this pandemic and having to switch the college to being remote is that the college is now better prepared.
“We now have the experience to make any necessary changes to campus life going forward,” he said. “If the unfortunate outcome occurs where ECC cannot host in-person classes this fall or has to make the switch to remote learning halfway through the semester again, our students and faculty are better prepared for that now.”
For more information about the Back to Campus plan, visit eastcentral.edu.