Ivy Tech allows campuses to set classroom protocols

Ivy Tech Community College is allowing its campuses to make their own decisions about COVID-19 protocols in the classroom as the fall term approaches.

“Each campus is allowed to develop their own policies,” said Chancellor Steven Combs at a campus board of trustees meeting Tuesday. “I really think that’s appropriate because the rates of infection, the rates of vaccinations are different in all of the counties.”

Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Jackie Fischer said vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks when they come to campus, but unvaccinated individuals are asked to wear them. These guidelines also are stated in the Ivy Tech system’s updated facial coverings policy, which was effective June 7.

“We know that we are a community that cares about each other, so we anticipate that our students will adhere to these parameters,” Fischer said.

Campus leaders also stated masks should be worn in certain instances where social distancing is not possible.

In regards to distancing, Fischer said campus guidelines are still being developed, and more information will be shared in the near future.

Combs said they are trying to keep a distance of 6 feet for now, though this could change in the future. At the moment, the college is still social distancing in classrooms. In instances when students need to gather, they will be asked to wear masks, and the school has extras on hand.

“Some of our nursing classes are 30, 35 students,” Fischer said. “And so in those courses, in those classrooms, we will ask students, when we are not able to socially distance, we will ask them to wear a mask. And as Dr. Combs said, we’ll have masks on hand. And it’s our hope that students are going to be amenable and really follow those guidelines well around campus.”

In regards to curriculum, Fischer said across the six counties in their service area, 600 courses are scheduled for this fall. Of that number, 43% are in a traditional face-to-face format on campus. They also are offering courses that are blended between in person and online as well as virtual options.

“During the height of COVID, a majority of our courses were in the virtual format,” Fischer said. “And we’re really keeping a close eye on this format and how students’ instructional preferences are changing as a result of their own experiences over the last 18 months.”

She said they also are offering courses that use the Learn Anywhere format launched in the fall of 2020. This option allows students to choose to come to campus, join the class virtually or complete the course asynchronously.

Fischer said this provides maximum flexibility and is helpful for students who have jobs or need to take care of family members. It also means students can take courses from other campuses across the state and vice versa.

Combs commended Fischer, the deans and faculty for “amazing work” amid COVID-19.

“They’ve had to really change things,” he said of faculty. “They’ve had to go into a really hard environment through COVID where we just kicked them out of the building and said, ‘Here, go figure it out. And you need to offer instruction online.’ And you can imagine what turmoil that is and angst and excitement that caused.”

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More information about Ivy Tech Community College Columbus is available at ivytech.edu/columbus, and more general information about the college system’s COVID-19 policies is available at ivytech.edu/coronavirus.html.