David H. Devier - Glen Oaks President

Glen Oaks Community College’s COVID-19 Response

by Dr. David H. Devier
Glen Oaks President

Like all organizations, Glen Oaks has been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the eight months since Michigan went into shutdown, through the summer and into the fall, the college has managed the situation successfully.

Beginning on March 17, the college closed the campus and moved most instruction online. This was a herculean effort by the faculty who rose to the occasion. Among the significant impacts resulting from the first-ever situation was the canceling of commencement and nursing and allied health pinnings, award presentations, and sending all housing students home.

As summer began, the campus was still almost completely abandoned with only the physical plant staff and essential workers in residence. Administration and staff were working from home making plans for the potential opening of the campus for fall. Many student services had been handled online including advising and registration in preparation for classes. Academics worked with faculty to determine courses that could be moved online as needed and developed hybrid courses which combine in-seat and online modalities to reduce daily on campus student numbers.

As fall semester grew near, most staff returned to campus in preparation for school opening. Student housing was full reserved and significant effort was expended to ensure that these students would be safe. Late summer saw campus deep cleaning, reallocation of large campus spaces converted to serve larger classes with social distancing, and significant safety precautions implemented.

On opening day; August 31, everything was in place to begin safely. Hundreds of masks were distributed, every classroom and gathering space was equipped with cleaning materials, employee and student daily health screening was initiated, and COVID quarantining protocols were in place.

Once classes resumed, it became apparent that everyone was taking the situation seriously. Students wore their masks and limited close gatherings. Faculty and staff set the example by following all Health Department guided procedures and serving the students well.

At this point ten-weeks into the fall semester, the challenge is mounting. In recent days, as the COVID numbers have increased in St. Joseph County, the efforts have increased to continue to control it on campus. With four0weeks remaining in the semester; the plan is to move as many current campus-based classes as possible to online.  The exceptions include the technical courses and the nursing and allied health offerings for their laboratory components. Even if it is determined to move to all online classes for the remainder of the semester, the experiences from the spring have prepared all for this possibility. No matter what, GOCC students, faculty and staff have responded admirably to this once in a century challenge. In the final evaluation, students have been served well and added value to their lives.