Many students prefer to take their college classes in person.
Students are no different at Western Nevada College. They enjoy being around other students and collaborating in the learning process. They also feel it is easier to learn new material and remain focused when a professor is lecturing or leading a discussion when they are in the same room.
In the face of the continuing dangers of the coronavirus, learning isn’t possible the way it used to be. College campuses are being advised to provide courses virtually and avoid large gatherings. If classes are to be offered in person, health and safety officials recommend creating social distancing, meaning classrooms can serve only a fraction of the students they once did.
For months, WNC has been preparing for the return of students and instructors who will be meeting in person for fall semester. These preparations haven’t been taken lightly.
“Life has changed at Western, just like it has everywhere else, thanks to COVID,” said WNC President Dr. Vincent Solis. “Classrooms have been prepared to serve students in this new age. We have social distancing in place, we have hand sanitizer, we have all the marketing, all the messaging across our digital signs, the marquees. Everything is set to go so we can provide a safe environment for our faculty, staff and students.”
Depending on a classroom’s size, they have been prearranged to safely serve a minimum of four students to a maximum of 35 students. They will be separated by six feet and all the seating is in one direction.
“We’re following (Nevada System of Higher Education) very closely, along with the Governor’s Office and the directives with what we’re doing in those areas,” President Solis said. “Again, the goal is to provide a very safe environment as we move through this transition. But if we have to move back to a virtual, online space, we are prepared to do that at a moment’s notice.”
WNC Safety & Risk Coordinator Craig Robinson has been tasked with many of these safety preparations and has consulted NSHE officials; state and local health officials; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to safeguard the college’s three campuses. Robinson has arranged 8-foot and 6-foot tables in classrooms so students can sit 6 feet apart. Students will also be at least 6 feet from instructors as well.
“We want to establish a visible line for the instructors at a 6-foot distance from the first row of learners,” Robinson said. “A reusable cloth face covering or single-use disposable mask is required in the classroom setting by both learners and instructors. Furthermore, an added face shield may be appropriate for settings where the instructor must interact within 6 feet of students on a limited basis.”
Robinson said it will be imperative for students and WNC staff to elevate their disease prevention practices (wash hands frequently, avoid touching face) and awareness of the objects they handle (disinfect before and after use, minimize sharing).
While Student Life and on-campus functions will be on hold until there is better control of COVID-19. President Solis said there are other ways for students to enjoy their college experience.
“We are not having any group gatherings, except what we’re allowing in instructional spaces, but students are resilient, smart and adaptive so they can do a lot of things online, virtual meetings, they’ve got social gatherings, trivia nights, video games,” President Solis said. “They still continue that student interaction that is so important during college years, but it is done in a remote setting that is allowing for safe interaction.”
Staff and students are required to wear face coverings on the college’s three campuses and are advised to avoid large gatherings and social distance at least six feet from others. Hand sanitizer is available in many locations on each campus, and campus users are advised to wash their hands longer and more frequently.
Staff and students are advised to remain at home if they aren’t feeling well.
For more information on what WNC is doing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRgDFLTaofo&t=1s