March 13 Coronavirus UpdateMar 13, 2020
Earlier this week, in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus, Governor Roy Cooper issued a state of emergency for North Carolina. In an effort to keep you informed about Rockingham Community College’s response to COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are sharing this message to alert you to decisions that have been made, discussions we are having, preparations that need to be made, and actions that need to be taken to protect the health of our campus community.
First, we have formed a Crisis Response Team that is comprised of the following people: President, VP for Academic Affairs, VP for Administrative Services, VP for Student Development, A VP for Facilities and External Affairs, A VP for IT and Institutional Effectiveness, Director of Public Information, Director of Human Resources, Director of Facilities, Director of Security, and the Executive Assistant to the President. This team has met and will continue to meet to make necessary decisions as this situation continues to evolve.
We have met and will continue to stay in contact with the Rockingham County Health Department, and we will be monitoring the COVID-19 coronavirus advisements through the Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On March 12, we had a conference call with the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) to get more direction on this situation. We will continue to seek their advice and direction.
It is critical to understand that all faculty, staff and students have the responsibility to self-report if you think you have been exposed to the coronavirus, and/or if you have been on a cruise or have traveled to an infected country or domestically to COVID-19 hotspots. For now, and this will change, hotspot states are California, Washington, New York and Massachusetts. If you think you may have been exposed or have traveled to these areas, you will need to self-quarantine for 14 days. Faculty and staff should self-report to Joy Chappell, Director of Human Resources, and students should self-report to Dr. Bob Lowdermilk, Vice President for Student Development. We will address each one of these situations on a case by case basis, and working from home for employees could be an option, depending on the situation. Should any students have to self-quarantine, this will not impact your ability to complete your coursework.
Presently, our plans are for Rockingham Community College to be open and continue to operate as normal, with the understanding that this situation is fluid. Classes will begin as scheduled on March 16. By March 23, all curriculum classes need to be ready to go to an online format. We hope that we do not have to go to online for all of our classes, but we may not have a choice. Getting prepared by March 23 is important. We are discussing the possibility of going online but teaching labs and continuing education courses face to face. But keep in mind, there are higher authorities that may dictate different action. Presently, some clinical rotations have been suspended due to the clinical sites not allowing students in their facilities. This has been done to limit the number of people in medical facilities. We are working on plans to make up lost clinical time. We do not yet have an answer to this. This is impacting all colleges in our region.
Effective immediately, we will not be allowing any out-of-state travel to workshops, conferences, etc. for employees with the exception of required travel for clinical rotations. In-state travel will be closely monitored and approved on a case by case basis. College-sponsored travel within the state to an event with 100 or more people has been suspended. This includes student organizations. All college-sponsored conferences and events on the college’s campus with an expectation of more than 100 participants are restricted until further notice. All athletic activities for Region 10 colleges of the National Association Junior College Athletic Association have been suspended through April 5, and will be reassessed both locally and nationally at that time.
Should the college have to close, we have identified mission critical positions that will need to work to maintain necessary operations. We hope that we will not have to close the college.
Please know that the college is doing everything that we can to make sure our facilities are clean and that sanitation products are available in all of our buildings. We are taking additional action to sanitize doorknobs, railings, and other surfaces more prone to germs, and these actions are taking place more frequently.
It is very important that members of our campus community do their due diligence to protect themselves and others. The following is recommended:
• Stay home if you feel sick or have a fever
• Avoid touching your face without first washing your hands
• Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer, immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
• When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve
• Avoid shaking hands
• Disinfect frequently touched objects using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
• Do not share food
Please understand that this situation is fluid. Things are rapidly changing across our country, as you have seen with all of the cancellations and the diagnosis of more cases of COVID-19. We will continue to keep you informed as things evolve. Information is and will continue to be posted on our website to keep our campus community informed.
Below are some links to websites that provide more information on COVID-19 coronavirus.https:www.cdc.gov/ https://www .cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/stop-the-spread-of-germs.pdf https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/press-releases/covid-19-mitigation-guidance https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-20 I 9-covid-19-response-north-carolina
Mark Kinlaw, Ed.D