(Council Bluffs) -- Iowa Western Community College is preparing for a school year unlike any other because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
School officials recently announced a plan for a safe return to the school's campuses and centers beginning August 17th. Among other things, the school's calendar calls for an earlier ending to the fall semester November 25th. Speaking on KMA's "Morning Line" program Monday morning, Iowa Western President Doctor Dan Kinney says the plan also calls for a combination of in-person and on-line instruction.
"What will happen is that the students will have face-to-face instruction about 50% of the time," said Kinney. "The other 50% will be online. That way, we're prepared if we have a real uptick in cases, and we're forced to go totally online. We're prepared to do that without disrupting the fall semester, should that happen."
Kinney says faculty members were forced to teach most classes on-line since mid-March because of COVID-19 public health measures. Similar measures were in place for the school's summer semester. Iowa Western's second summer session began today (Monday). In addition, Kinney says students will be screened before entering classes or the school's dormitories on the Council Bluffs campus.
"Iowa Public Health has helped us screen the students," said Kinney. "Then, also, they've been given the COVID-19 test--we won't know the results of that for four or five days. For every student who is living in housing, for every student who is coming into classes, we're going to be screening them every morning. And, of course, we're going to need their participation, and not roam around and contact people who might be positive."
Students testing positive will be asked to stay home. Sections of each student housing unit have been set aside to isolate students testing positive for coronavirus. Kinney also says face coverings will be required at each of the school's facilities.
"All classes will require face masks--students and faculty," said Kinney. "All the places in the facilities--whether it be Clarinda, Shenandoah or Council Bluffs--where two or more people gather, we're going to require face masks."
And, precautions have been taken at the Council Bluffs student center and cafeteria to ensure social distancing.
"We've already removed all the tables and chairs, so that we've got it socially distant," he said. "We will actually limit the number of people that will be in the cafeteria at one time. The way we're going to do that, is that we've already taken the students that will be living in housing, and eating in the cafeteria, and divided them into cohort groups. Each group has been assigned a time when they will go to the cafeteria for lunch, dinner or breakfast, whatever, so that we can keep the capacity down, and observe social distancing."
Precautions are also being taken for student-athletes involved in the college's fall sports programs. You can hear the full interview on our "Morning Line" page at kmaland.com.