Community colleges adjust to outbreak as summer classes begin

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Summer classes are beginning at colleges around the state, but course work looks different than in years past.

Classes started on Monday at Kansas City Kansas Community College, but they’re not in person yet. For the first half of the six-week summer session, classes will still be online. For the second half, there will be in-person classes.

“We gave it a little bit more time to make sure that the virus dissipating in the community, and only classes that have labs came back in the second half of the summer, so we’re really looking out for safety,” KCKCC President Greg Mosier said.

Each of the 19 community colleges in the state can decide how they would like to see classes proceed and what restrictions they want to have in place heading toward the fall.

“We may have to consider single occupancy residency halls, we may have to make some changes in our dining halls related to social distancing, maybe using paper products rather than traditional dishes, those are all the things that we’re looking at to make sure our students and faculty are safe,” Heather Morgan, executive director of the Kansas Community College Trustee Association, said.

KCKCC is already making everyone wear masks and get their temperature checked on campus.

“Want to make sure our students are safe. So we’re actually scheduling our classes as if there is a restriction, six foot social distancing, so what normally might be 30 percent online, we’re looking at 60-70 percent online,” Mosier said.

“Fewer bodies on campus just keeps it that much safer and we’re still really providing the education that students are looking for and what they need,” he continued.

During the pandemic, community colleges helped fill state needs by coordinating with the state division of emergency management to provide masks, protective equipment, and ventilators to the healthcare industry.

“We believe strongly in supporting our communities so we automatically wanted to help,” Morgan said.

Colleges are getting federal funding to help students pay for their schooling. At KCKCC, money from the CARES Act, plus dollars raised by donors and the school, will help students and families that have been hit hard during the crisis.

“We will be offering scholarships for students in the fall, probably somewhere around an additional 1000 dollars on top of whatever they might receive with other scholarships, so basically students will be able to probably get all of their classes for free,” Mosier said.

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