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Coronavirus Update March 18 10:37 a.m.

Dr. Alvarez: OJC Spring Semester Status

To:  OJC-All Employees; OJC-All Students

Subject:  Implementing Phase I of OJC Operations in Response to COVID-19 Restrictions

Dear OJC Community of Learners:

Over the past week we have all found ourselves making numerous adjustments to our daily activities as we have responded to the mandates and recommendations associated with the Coronavirus. 

The OJC Cabinet and several college staff members met yesterday to further outline how Otero Junior College will move forward in what we are calling our Phase I response to this on-going situation.  We are preparing ourselves to cope with additional challenges, should they become necessary; however, I want to fully communicate to our College community the steps we have defined up to this point.

I know this email is lengthy, but I implore you to read all the way through to the end as it will outline important information for students, faculty and staff.

Phase I

Remote Learning

  1. As of Monday, March 30, 2020, all instruction will move to remote learning formats that will include teaching and learning through Desire 2 Learn (D2L), WebEx and other electronic and digital platforms as appropriate.
    1. There are program exceptions:  These programs are held to unique standards with additional accrediting agencies that require alternative means to achieve hands-on requirements. The faculty of these programs will be informed of their status.
  2. Faculty will be expected to spend the week of March 23 preparing and communicating with their students on the specifics of how their classes will be conducted.
  3. The Learning Commons will remain fully operational with initial hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  4. Students who have technology needs or concerns about remote learning should contact the staff in the Learning Commons.
  5. Students receiving disability services will work through the disabilities coordinator and the faculty teaching their courses to achieve the most reasonable accommodations.
  6. Mental health services provided by Southeast Health Group will continue by phone or other remote technology.
  7. Remote learning will continue through the end of the semester.

Residence Life & Food Service

  1. There will be a limited number of students who are unable to leave campus and return home. Those students will be able to continue living in the residence halls and receiving food service. Those students may expect to be moved to only one of the residence halls so that deep cleaning of the other halls can be done. We still plan to provide housing and food service for students who want to stay on campus.
  2. Students who moved out of the residence halls prior to Spring Break will have their room and board charges pro-rated.
  3. Students who left personal items in the residence halls before leaving for Spring Break and are not planning to return will be allowed back in their rooms to collect their belongings.

Student Employment

  1. Students currently employed on campus in work study positions (Colorado Need, Colorado No Need, as well as Federal work study) will continue to be paid based on their average number of hours worked each week, up to March 13. Student workers WILL NOT be allowed back on campus to work after March 20, 2020. Work study students will continue to be paid on a bi-weekly basis per their original award, but WILL NOT be working.

Enrollment for Summer and Fall Semester

  1. Enrollment for Summer and Fall Semesters will open as planned on Monday, March 23, 2020.
  2. Students will receive communications about scheduling a phone advising session through Navigate.

Financial Holds

  1. Students who have financial holds due to money still owed for Spring Semester will be given a temporary override on their accounts that will allow them to register for Summer or Fall Semesters.
  2. Final payment dates will be communicated at a later date in order for students with bills to remain in the courses they have registered for.
  3. Students are encouraged to make the necessary arrangements to satisfy their financial obligations before the end of the term.

Campus Operations

  1. At this time, the College will remain open for business. OJC administration is continuing to prepare for the possibility of remote work for our staff where appropriate.
  2. Faculty and staff will maintain full access to all appropriate campus buildings.
  3. All other buildings will be locked to the general public.
  4. Buildings/Rooms open to students, faculty and staff will include:
    1. Macdonald Hall
    2. Wheeler Hall
    3. Life Science
    4. Learning Commons
    5. Student Services in McBride Hall
  5. Extensive cleaning will be conducted on all public spaces, classrooms, computers and computer labs, restrooms and residence halls on a regular basis.

Work Locations & Staffing

  1. Faculty will have access to their offices during this time period.
  2. Staff members are expected, at this time, to work on-campus.
    1. If a staff member has a health or other personal reason that they feel warrants the ability to work remotely, they must present that request in writing to their supervisor. The approval for that request will be made in agreement among the supervisor, the vice president of that department and the Human Resource Director.
  3. Some staff members whose jobs involved direct student contact may be asked to assist in departments that will need additional help due to the loss of student workers.
  4. Staff members whose jobs are otherwise impacted due to lack of students on campus may be asked to take on other duties as assigned.

Travel Restrictions

  1. We will be cancelling all student and staff travel with the exception of travel mandated by an accrediting agency.
  2. Other requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Spring Campus Events

  1. All campus events have been cancelled until further notice:
    1. On-campus orientation dates are still being scheduled for June, but students will also be encouraged to complete the online orientation in case the on-campus events are not held.
  2. No campus tours will be arranged until further notice.
  3. All home and away athletic events have been cancelled, with the exception of rodeo, who are planning to make a decision in early April.
  4. Silver Sneakers and OJC Dance will be cancelled.
  5. Physical Education (PED) classes will be conducted via remote instruction where possible.
  6. The Otero Arts Festival will be conducted in an abbreviated format utilizing photography and video presentations and judging.
  7. No meetings or gatherings of OJC employees or students will be allowed over 50 people.
  8. When meetings are held, please be mindful of the social distancing recommendations.
  9. We need to limit guests to the campus, so please be considerate with visitors coming onto campus or into buildings.


  1. In-person commencement ceremonies will be cancelled.
    1. Students who have already paid for caps and gowns will receive a reimbursement. However, students are responsible for the costs associated with printing diplomas.
  2. We will be exploring alternative ways to conduct a commencement and recognize student achievement.

Personal Health

  1. If you do not feel well, do not come to work.
    1. When you submit your sick leave request, make a note in the comment section of why you are leaving work. The HR office will be able to track our incidents of sick leave with the possibility that administrative leave could be granted for that time at a later date.
  2. If you have staff that are not feeling well, send them home.

Our Guiding Principles

  1. Ensure the health and safety of students and staff.
  2. Minimizing risk – providing/practicing social distancing.
  3. Maintaining rigor and quality educational programs.
  4. Satisfying learning objectives and accreditation standards.
  5. Ensure access and equity for all students, particularly those who might not be comfortable with remote learning.
  6. Minimize disruption to the extent possible.


There is no doubt that many of you will still have specific questions. If you are a student with specific questions about a class, I recommend you contact your faculty member. 

For questions concerning the residence halls or athletics, contact Dean of Students Gary Addington. 719-384-6859  |

For questions concerning financial aid or your bill, contact Financial Aid Director Kelsey Barbee. 719-384-6985  |

For questions about getting registered for next semester, contact Coordinator of Learning Commons Hailey Wold.  719-384-6946  |

For employment and work questions, contact your supervisor or Director of Human Resources Carol Noll.  719-384-6824  |


You can find current information about our response to this health crisis here:


I realize that there are many “unknowns” but I am exceedingly confident that this community of learners will have the talent and work ethic to navigate this most recent setback. I urge you to have patience but to communicate with us if you need assistance. We cannot fully anticipate all of the challenges associated with this change in delivery. This new normal may be with us for a while. I ask that you make a concerted effort to be the best student you can be. And please know that OJC is the best rural community college in Colorado. We are a student-focused, learning organization, who is committed to student success. Go Rattlers!

With Great Anticipation,


Timothy A. Alvarez, Ph.D.


Otero Junior College