EvCC To Reopen A Limited Number Of In-Person Classes

Five programs are set to begin in-person classes next week. Including, Emergency Medical Services, Firefighter Academy, Medical Assisting, Nursing and Phlebotomy Technician.

%22Only+the+classes+in+these+programs+offered+in+Liberty+Hall+are+resuming+Wednesday%2C+May+6%22+said+EvCC+President+Dr.+Daria+Willis.+

Daniel Albert

"Only the classes in these programs offered in Liberty Hall are resuming Wednesday, May 6" said EvCC President Dr. Daria Willis.

Yesterday at 7:31 p.m., EvCC President Dr. Daria Willis announced that the school has been approved to resume a limited number of in-person courses beginning today, May 6.

According to the announcement, five programs have been approved. The Emergency Medical Services, Firefighter Academy, Medical Assisting, Nursing and Phlebotomy Technician are the five courses selected to begin in-person teaching. “Only the classes in these programs offered in Liberty Hall are resuming Wednesday, May 6,” said Willis in the announcement. The five combined programs consist of about 860 students. 

Katherine Schiffner, EvCC’s public information officer explained that Everett Community College received approval from the Washington State Nursing Commission to offer in-person nursing labs. She continued by sharing that approval is per the governor’s directive, communicated by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

Employees and students will also submit to temperature screenings and will be asked to complete a health check form 24 hours before coming to campus. Students will also be asked questions onsite related to their health before they are let into the building and will only have access to the south entrance of Liberty Hall and should be prepared to wait in line using social distancing. 

“This I feel like isn’t possible, especially with how many students are in my cohort and the sizes of the classrooms plus the 6 feet social distancing recommendation,” said Nicole Nguyen a second year, 5th quarter nursing student.

 

Nicole Nguyen, a second year, 5th quarter nursing student doesn’t agree with the school’s decision to reopen.

Nguyen also has a compromised immune system. “I was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis (of the kidney) about 6 years ago and am still struggling with it today. As a student who is immunocompromised, I do not think it is a good idea at all to reopen classes at this time. Governor Inslee just extended the Stay-at-home order and so it does not make sense for the EvCC president to open up campuses again, especially for only “certain courses”. I just think the risks outweigh the benefits.”

In addition to the screening, students and employees will be required to have facial coverings. “There is a limited number of facial covers on site; however, if you have your own, please bring and use your own facial covering,” says Willis. 

 Some nursing students agree with the decision. Heather Belisle, a first quarter nursing student who’s Spring class was pushed to Fall, was on board with the school’s decision. “I agree with their decision. I believe the school and instructors will take every necessary precaution to keep students safe,” said Belisle. “Nurses are a critical component of this epidemic, and I feel it’s very important to continue their education.”

Belisle also thinks that there’s a shortage of nurses in the workforce, therefore it’s imperative to get them into the world as soon as possible. “Nursing students will not be exposed to anything more than they would performing their job duties,” said Belisle. 

Courtesy Photo
Nicole Nguyen (Left) smiles for a picture with her fellow cohorts during a lab day.

Nguyen also expressed that the whole situation doesn’t sit well with her. “The risk of increasing student exposure to COVID-19 in order to have some in-person teaching just doesn’t sit well with me,” says Nguyen. “We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, opening up Liberty Hall and letting in-person classes go on is not safe nor responsible.” 

According to Schiffner, the school has been discussing logistics for safely providing in-person instruction since mid-April, knowing that the college will return to some hands-on labs for health sciences and professional/technical programs at some point. 

 The decision to reopen the five programs will not change the plan for Summer quarter to be held remotely. “The majority of classes will still be offered online. For classes that do have in-person labs, lectures will be online,” says Schiffner. 

For any students who might feel like it’s unsafe to come to in-person classes, the college will handle requests on an individual basis and will work with the student, instructor and program dean. 

Students in the nursing program were made aware early in the quarter that in-person instruction was a possibility. But, no one knew exactly when the approval would happen so it was not possible to set an exact date for return, explained Schiffner. 

Daniel Albert
A sign on a door at Liberty Hall shares that authorized students and employees must have their temperatures checked prior to building entry on Wednesday, May 6.

All of Nguyen’s nursing classes/labs are held in Liberty Hall, “I found out about classes reopening in Liberty Hall this morning,” says Nguyen. She was unaware of the reopening until being interviewed for this story. 

The school feels comfortable reopening, “We know much more about proper social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, and safe practices in the classroom than we did in March,” said Schiffner. “This makes us comfortable resuming in-person instruction that is necessary to properly instruct the future nurses that our community needs.”

When asked if the school is hesitant or worried about any students potentially bringing COVID-19 back on campus, Schiffner replied “The health and safety of our students and employees is EvCC’s highest priority, which is why most instruction will remain online for the rest of Spring quarter and Summer quarter. We are following Washington state guidelines as well as public health best practices to minimize the health risks to students and employees, including health checks upon building entry. We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis.” 

An update on other programs that may be authorized to return to on-campus instruction will be provided by May 8.