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FMCC reveals fall re-opening plan

Most course work will be remote with some hands-on courses, clinical experience

JOHNSTOWN — Fall reopening plans announced by Fulton-Montgomery Community College on Wednesday call for most courses to be delivered remotely, with some students to return to campus for certain hands-on courses or clinical experiences.

Courses that are taught on campus will follow social distancing guidelines with modified classroom layouts and will require those in attendance to wear face masks.

FMCC anticipates releasing the full schedule of fall course offerings on July 21 to include courses that are taught online with no scheduled interfacing, live online courses conducted by video conference at a scheduled time, hybrid courses with both online and in-person sessions on campus and in-person courses taught on campus requiring hands-on experience. Fall classes are scheduled to start on Sept. 2.

The reopening plan developed by FMCC meets guidelines for the reopening of higher education released by the state Department of Health and has been approved by the State University of New York.

“The college leadership has worked closely with the State University of New York to develop a plan that will work for all of our students. We are looking forward to the fall semester and delivering quality, affordable education to our community in a safe, socially distanced format,” said Acting President Greg Truckenmiller in a prepared statement.

All faculty members were asked to prepare plans for remote instruction in the fall, including for courses that are slated to take place in-person on campus in case the physical campus is required to close once again temporarily or for an extended period of time due to the coronavirus.

Colleges could be forced to shift to strictly remote instruction once again if the metrics the state has monitored to dictate reopening for the regions of the state surrounding infection and hospitalization rates, hospital capacity and testing and tracing capabilities no longer meet state standards for a particular area. Institutions would be subject to physical closures if ordered by the governor, the local health department or if a significant outbreak occurred on campus.

“While our campus plan is approved, the plan is still subject to change due to new information, guidance and/or direction from the state,” stated Truckenmiller.

The college will utilize an alternating A/B class schedule to limit density on campus with small classes located in larger classrooms with desks spaced at least six feet apart or seats taped off in facilities with fixed seating.

In preparation for the upcoming academic year, FMCC is plans to bring staff members back to campus on Aug. 3 with individual departments to develop plans for employees to continue working from home where appropriate. Faculty members will be encouraged to work from home unless they need to be on campus.

On-site work spaces for staff members will be separated by at least six feet with some employees to be moved from open areas into private offices. Reception areas are being reconfigured with physical barriers to enforce social distancing.

Employees who are on campus will be expected to limit their in-person interactions with others and signage in corridors will instruct foot-traffic patterns to encourage social distancing through common areas.

Students and staff will be required to wear face masks in buildings when moving from place to place or when social distancing is not possible. Students will be required to supply their own face masks, with disposable face masks available for individuals who forget their face covering.

Hand sanitizer stations will be available across campus and at building entrances. College staff will sanitize commonly touched surfaces at least twice a day, in addition to regular disinfection and cleaning practices.

FMCC does not plan to test students, faculty or staff members for the coronavirus upon reopening, but students will periodically be asked to complete an online health screening and employees will complete an online health screening each day.

Any individual who has been exposed to the coronavirus or who is symptomatic will be immediately sent home, to their residence or to a designated quarantine location with instructions for a health assessment and testing.

The FM Public Safety Office will notify the state and local health departments immediately of any confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus among the campus community, with the health departments in Fulton and Montgomery counties to lead testing and contact tracing efforts.

Student housing will be open in the fall, the college is currently developing a student move-in plan that will include staggered move-in days and policies limiting the number of people helping students move. Lounges and other common areas will be closed with social distancing to be maintained in hallways and masks required when social distancing cannot be maintained. Off-campus visitors will not be allowed to enter residence halls.

Student housing is maintained by the FM Auxiliary Corporation which recently ended its contractual relationship with the vendor providing dining services on campus and on campus dining and catering services are expected to remain closed for the fall semester, meaning that a meal plan will not be available to students for the fall semester. However, the Auxiliary Corporation is restoring stoves to the kitchens in student suites located in the two residence halls that are planned for use in the fall.

The third residence hall on campus will be reserved for use as a quarantine site for students living on campus if necessary. Students would be placed in a room by themselves with a private bathroom. FMCC has developed protocols with the Fulton County Department of Health for the delivery of food and medicine to students placed in quarantine.

The campus will not host any events that are open to the public during the fall semester. Additionally, there will be no plays, musical performances, speakers, concerts or art exhibits with in-person audiences. The college will instead encourage virtual activities, with any campus events that cannot be done virtually to be postponed until a future semester when permitted under health guidelines.

Co-curricular gatherings and in-person meetings of student organizations will only occur with appropriate social distancing protocols maintained and will require participants to wear face masks.

All non-essential visitors will be discouraged from accessing the college campus, with those individuals asked to make arrangements to meet with students, faculty and staff virtually. Anyone who must visit the campus will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

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