New COVID protocols are being implemented across the state and the latest is State Fair Community College.
Last month, the Pettis County Health Center Board of Trustees and Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education made face masks optional on May 12. Now at SFCC, new COVID protocols will go into effect on June 1. The SFCC COVID-19 Response Team based this decision on the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health authorities, SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson said. According to Anderson, individuals can now take personal responsibility for themselves and their safety due to vaccines being available.
“For the most part, vaccinations really have been the key in making some of the decisions, too,” Anderson said.
The college is changing its stance on masks to match the Health Center’s decision. Masks will be recommended but not required for students, employees and visitors at all SFCC campuses.
“It’s putting the responsibility on the individual,” SFCC Marketing and Communications Director Brad Henderson said. “There are some people who are for masks, and some people who aren’t for masks… So, we’re really giving the freedom to the individual to do, you know, what they feel is in their best interest.”
Some Health Sciences Department classes will be an exception to the new protocols, according to Henderson. He explained students in the Health Sciences Department will have to wear masks in certain instances, such as when working in labs and clinical settings or if there is a large number of students in a small classroom. SFCC Dean of Health Sciences Dr. Rhonda Hutton Gann said students will wear masks when they are simulating health care environments.
“There’s nothing like formally in place (with the college) that says that all Health Sciences will be required to wear masks,” Henderson said.
Hutton Gann said the department is still determining if the upcoming allied health pinning ceremony will have COVID restrictions.
Since the college removed half of the chairs and desks from classrooms when it reopened in the spring due to social distancing, Henderson said summer classes will not start with the full amount of chairs and desks. However, because the campus population is lower for summer classes, it will not be an issue, he noted. Henderson added this summer gives the college the opportunity to reorganize the classes for the fall semester. SFCC summer classes begin Tuesday, June 1.
“If you were to look across the state, I think you would find similar actions and decisions being made at just about all community colleges and institutions of higher education, right now,” Henderson said. “They may be having a slightly different approach, but we're all at the same point, where we’re looking to begin the return to normalcy and ease some of those restrictions that we put in place.”
According to a news release, other protocol changes include:
• External vendors are no longer required to be admitted through the college’s Facilities Management office before visiting campus or making deliveries.
• Meeting and conference rooms are now open for public use.
• The college’s COVID-19 dashboard on the website has been discontinued and the webpage has been repurposed for campus and community health information.
• Offices and services will resume normal operations, and employees will return to on-campus work. SFCC will cease required COVID-19 reporting by students and employees. However, all are strongly encouraged to self-monitor and stay home when ill or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
• The Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center will reopen the walking track to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, but these hours are subject to change. Questions about the indoor track should be directed to the Davis Center office at 660-530-5808.
• Effective Aug. 1, classrooms and the Parkhurst Student Commons will return to pre-COVID-19 configurations. Public benches and other campus seating across campuses will be returned.
• Students living in residence halls and apartments who are not vaccinated will be required to submit to testing and quarantined if tests are positive.
• Athletic programs will continue to follow National Junior College Athletic Association guidelines.