Otero Junior College has developed this page to provide OJC faculty, staff, students and families with information and resources about Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and actions taken by the College to prepare for potential impact.
CARES Act Required Reporting
The CARES Act is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for Higher Education. OJC was awarded funds that were required to be used only as direct grants to students to provide emergency relief aid for hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic as they look to continue their education.
The situation regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, and OJC will continue to provide updates as information is available.
On Friday, April 3, Governor Polis announced the Colorado Mask Campaign encouraging Coloradans to wear non-medical cloth face coverings when leaving the home for essential business.
On Friday, April 17, Governor Polis Announces Execitive Order Ordering Workers in Critical Businesses and Critical Government Functions to Wear Non-Medical Face Coverings.
|LATEST CORONAVIRUS UPDATES|
|May 25, 8:00 a.m. - Governor Polis Safer at Home Policy FAQ (pdf)|
|May 25, 7:46 a.m. - Governor Polis Extending Safer at Home Policy (pdf)|
|May 22, 12:30 p.m. - Otero/Crowley Update: New COVID-19 Positive Cases (pdf)|
|May 13, 9:54 a.m. - Otero/Crowley Update: New COVID-19 Positive Otero County (pdf)|
|May 8, 10:40 a.m. - Otero/Crowley Update: 35 New COVID-19 Positive Crowley County (pdf)|
|May 4, 2:45 p.m. - Otero/Crowley Update: Two New COVID-19 Positive Crowley County (pdf)|
How the College is Responding to COVID-19
The College is closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation, and as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is taking action to address a potential future outbreak in the U.S. that could impact daily College operations, athletics, and other educational, personal, and business travel for students, faculty, and staff.
The College has convened its Emergency Management Operations Group and has put in motion the actions required for social distancing and shelter in place, as mandated by the State of Colorado. We are in communication with county and state health officials to monitor the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We are also working closely with the Colorado Community College System Emergency Management Office for guidance and updates.
Otero Junior College has been making numerous adjustments to our daily activities as we have responded to the mandates and recommendations associated with the Coronavirus.
As of Thursday, March 26, 2020 the OJC campus was closed. The only people allowed back on campus for short periods of time are identified essential personnel. If anyone needs back on campus, they have to request a special permissions letter from Dr. Alvarez, and then it is only for a brief period of time to get in and get out.
As of Monday, March 30, 2020, all courses at Otero Junior College were transitioned to remote learning formats. Over the past few weeks OJC administrators have been making numerous adjustments as they are responding to mandates and recommendations associated with the Coronavirus.
The OJC administration continues to meet remotely to further outline how Otero Junior College will move forward in this on-going situation. We are preparing ourselves to cope with additional challenges, should they become necessary. These are the steps we have defined up to this point:
Our Current Status – May 26, 2020
COVID –19 Status in our Community
- We have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on-campus for either students or staff
- According to the Otero County Health Department, as of May 26, 2020, Otero County has 14 positive cases of COVID-19 and includes one death; Crowley County has 44 positive cases (42 in Crowley County Correctional Facility) and includes one death. Total Crowley and Otero County COVID-19 cases: 58.
OJC as Alternate Care Facility
- Otero Junior College has been designated as an Alternate Care Facility (ACF) by the
Otero/Crowley Health Department during the current COVID-19 crisis.
- According to Richard Ritter, executive director Otero County Health Department, OJC was designated as an ACF to support the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center (AVRMC) if that facility were to become overwhelmed with patients as a result of increasing COVID-19 patients.
- “Basically, the way our AFC at Otero Junior College would work is that AVRMC would transfer their non-critical patients to the AFC, where they would get appropriate medical care. This would enable AVRMC to focus on more severe, critically ill patients that need much more attention and care,” explained Ritter.
- Ritter said the ACF will have a direct line of communication with AVRMC. Patients will not report directly to the ACF, they will report to AVRMC where they will receive an initial assessment before possible transfer to the ACF.
- Ritter stressed in his comments that utilizing the ACF at Otero Junior College is
not happening right now.
- “This is being planned with an abundance of caution, so that IF the need arises, we are ready to assist our regional hospital to meet the need,” he said.
- OJC is prepared to offer three on-campus locations:
- (1) Life Sciences building (main hub for nursing)
- (2) The Wunsch Hall residence facility (patient beds)
- (3) McDivitt Center Gymnasium, should the need arise for more space
- According to Ritter, the OJC site has been prepared to accept patients at any time
should the need arise.
- “The Life Science and Wunch Hall sites have been cleaned and readied; medical beds are in place, and we have access to many more beds if the need arises. Start-up supplies have been secured; linens and pillows have been donated; and food service and laundry service is being finalized,” said Ritter.
- As of Monday, March 30, 2020, all instruction has moved to remote learning formats that will include teaching and learning through Desire 2 Learn (D2L), WebEx and other electronic and digital platforms as appropriate. Remote learning will continue through the end of the semester.
- 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 are working with their accrediting agencies to find solutions to hands-on-learning requirements. Some of those programs may extend into the summer months to achieve their hands-on learning objectives.
- Students who have technology needs or concerns about remote learning should communicate those needs to their faculty and contact the staff in the Learning Commons.
- Students receiving disability services will continue to work through the disabilities coordinator and the faculty teaching their courses to achieve the most reasonable accommodations.
- Mental health services provided by Southeast Health Group will continue by phone or other remote technology.
Summer Semester Remote Learning
- Otero Junior College has announced that the College’s Summer Semester will move to
all remote access learning-based instruction. According to Dr. Calandra Lockhart,
vice president of academic and student affairs at OJC, the college made the decision
to help mitigate ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockhart explained that
OJC is currently utilizing remote access learning to complete Spring Semester classes.
- “We are currently in the 12th week of Spring Semester, having moved to a full remote access learning-based instruction on March 30. We have proven over the past two weeks that we have the technology and faculty skillset to deliver our instruction through remote access. With so many unknowns about when risk levels surrounding COVID-19 will recede, we have made the decision to continue with this method of instruction for all of our Summer Semester classes,” said Lockhart.
- Along with the announcement that all Summer Semester classes would be delivered through
remote access, OJC has also announced that the tuition rate for those classes will
be at the in-person tuition rate, not the online rate.
- “This has been a stressful and unusual time for our students,” said Lockhart. “We know that many unexpected changes came very quickly during their Spring Semester. Most of our students have been able to adjust to those changes, but for others, moving to remote instruction has been a challenge. By offering remote access learning during Summer Semester, at a tuition rate that is the same as the in-person rate, we hope it will help many current and future students either get ahead on credits, or stay on track to graduate on time,” explained Lockhart.
- Spring Semester at OJC will conclude on May 1. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, withdrawal will be extended to May 1 and a virtual Commencement Ceremony will be held on May 2. Approximately 400 students are slated to receive degrees and certificates during the virtual ceremony.
- Enrollment for Summer Semester at OJC is currently open. Summer Semester will begin on June 1, 2020.
Grade Options in the Wake of COVID-19
- Otero Junior College has announced adjustments to several academic policies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which took students off campus to finish out their spring semester through remote-access instruction.
- Leading the list of changes is a student’s ability to withdraw from a class through May 1 and earn a W (withdraw) in that class, versus a letter grade. The withdrawal date would normally have fallen on April 3.
- A second academic policy change allows students several options on what type of grade
they will receive in a class. The OJC administration is aware that some students do
not have the personal resources to complete or pass a course that is being taught
in a remote-access format. In addition, the stay-at-home order has created hardships
for many students who are now not able to work or do not have childcare.
- Students who are passing and doing well in their classes are encouraged to complete the course and earn their passing letter grade. If a student was doing well until COVID-19 started, but then began to struggle, the college has decreased the required successful completion of coursework to 60 percent. This will allow students the ability to take the passing grade they were earning at the 60 percent completion mark of the class. The student does not have to pay for the course again.
- Students who are struggling with a class have some additional options for Spring Semester
2020 term only.
- Students can take an ‘I’ (incomplete) or they can take a ‘W’ (withdraw) up to May 1. If a student takes either an ‘I’ or ‘W’ in a class, these grades will not be included in the courses attempted and completed calculations for Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). This will be a temporary one-time emergency policy to assist students in returning to their studies.
- The ‘W’ and the ‘I’ grades will become part of a student’s official transcript; however, the student will not be immediately placed in an ineligible status for not meeting this single rule in the Financial Aid SAP process. These students will not have to file an appeal.
- As part of our emergency response efforts to COVID-19, Otero Junior College is temporarily
allowing students the option of choosing to receive Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory
grades in lieu of letter grades for the Spring of 2020 semester.
- Satisfactory / Unsatisfactory grading is an alternate grading scheme where an ‘S’ counts as a ‘C’ or better, and a ‘U’ counts as a ‘D’ or lower, rather than a letter traditional grade. The S/U grades will not change your term or cumulative GPA. However, they will be used in the course completion rate calculation for financial aid, and they may affect athletic eligibility, your standing in a program, and your ability to transfer courses to a college or university out-of-state. An ‘S’ grade is equivalent to a ‘C’ letter grade when transferring to another college.
- Students who choose to stay in a class and earn a grade of ‘F’ or ‘U’ will not be excluded from Financial Aid SAP. When a student has an ‘F’ or ‘U’ grade, it means that the student has completed the course. The student has ‘earned’ the grade either through their performance or failure to attend.
Residence Life & Food Service
- There are currently only a limited number of students who were 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 have been moved to one of the residence halls so that deep cleaning of the other halls can be done.
- Students who moved out of the residence halls prior to Spring Break will have their room and board charges pro-rated at the end of the semester if there is no other outstanding balance on their account.
- Students who left personal items in the residence halls before leaving for Spring Break have been contacted and are doing remote check-out via an online form. With the implantation of the shelter-in-place order, students who have not yet retrieved their belongings will have until April 30 to do so, if the shelter-in-place order is lifted by April 11.
- 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 until May 1st, but WILL NOT be working.
Enrollment for Summer and Fall Semester
- Enrollment for Summer and Fall Semesters has officially opened. All returning students and new students are being communicated with via email about the process of enrolling for a future semester via Navigate, an online platform that students can utilize remotely, thus allowing them to get enrolled without coming back to campus.
Financial Holds and Paying Outstanding Balances
- 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.
- All final bills are due by June 30, 2020. If a student has enrolled in classes for Summer or Fall Semesters and has not paid their final Spring Semester bill, or set up a payment plan by June 30, 2020, they will be dropped from their Summer or Fall classes
- The pro-rating of room/board and scholarships began this week. All credits to students’ accounts are expected to be completed by April 17. Reimbursements will be made to a student’s account as soon as the pro-rating of room/board is completed.
- Stay at Home Order: As you all know, we are still under Governor Polis’ Stay at Home Order. At the time of writing this email, the governor has extended the order to April 26. The federal government has asked us to continue to social distance and maintain hand washing through the end of April. Of course, this is all subject to change and we are doing our best to keep up with changes on the federal, state and system office levels. We will keep you informed as best and timely as we are able.
- At this time all buildings will be locked to the general public and to OJC employees.
- The only people allowed back on campus for short periods of time are identified essential personnel
- If anyone else needs back on campus, they have to request a special permissions letter from Dr. Alvarez, and then it is only for a brief period of time to get in and get out.
- All faculty, staff and students are working remotely to continue with daily operations of the campus and completing the necessary learning objectives of the semester
- Extensive cleaning is being conducted on all public spaces, classrooms, computers and computer labs, restrooms and residence halls on a regular basis.
- The OJC Maintenance crew is thoroughly cleaning the FCU’s (fan coil units) coils and changing filters in the dorms and will be addressing class room units next. Since Viruses such as COVID-19 can be spread through airborne transmissions through HVAC systems, the droplets can enter into and be distributed by the building HVAC system. Much of the same stimulus that effects surface longevity of the virus is likely true for the HVAC system. This makes it most important during this time to make sure coils are clean and free of all forms of bacteria and filters are free from accumulated dust for proper filtration.
Spring Campus Events
- All campus events have been cancelled until further notice:
- 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.
- No campus tours will be arranged until further notice.
- All home and away athletic events have been cancelled
- Silver Sneakers and OJC Dance have been cancelled.
- Physical Education (PED) classes will be conducted via remote instruction where possible.
- The Otero Arts Festival will be conducted in an abbreviated format utilizing photography and video presentations and judging.
- In-person commencement ceremonies have been cancelled.
- Students who have already paid for caps and gowns will receive a reimbursement. However, students are responsible for the costs associated with printing diplomas.
- We will be exploring alternative ways to conduct a commencement and recognize student achievement.
- Should employees working remotely fall ill, the employee will submit a sick leave request as they normally do; make a note in the comment section of why they 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.
- We have received word that veterans will still receive benefits for the semester, even though there is a change in educational delivery.
- We made requests to a number of accreditation bodies and agencies for approval to offer remote course-work delivery and a truncated semester. This was crucial in order to maintain accreditation standards and to ensure the quality and rigor of our programs.
Our Guiding Principles
- Ensure the health and safety of students and staff.
- Minimizing risk – providing/practicing social distancing.
- Maintaining rigor and quality educational programs.
- Satisfying learning objectives and accreditation standards.
- Ensure access and equity for all students, particularly those who might not be comfortable with remote learning.
- Minimize disruption to the extent possible.
For questions concerning the residence halls or athletics, contact Dean of Students Gary Addington. 719-384-6859 | firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions concerning financial aid or your bill, contact Financial Aid Director Kelsey Barbee. 719-384-6985 | email@example.com
For questions about getting registered for next semester, contact Coordinator of Learning Commons Hailey Wold. 719-384-6946 | firstname.lastname@example.org
For employment and work questions, contact your supervisor or Director of Human Resources Carol Noll. 719-384-6824 | email@example.com