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.
Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)Section 18004 (E) of the CARES Act Reporting and Disclosure
The situation regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, and OJC will continue to provide updates as information is available.
|LATEST CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATES|
|August 26, 8:00 a.m. - Social Distancing Facial Covering Guidance (pdf)|
|August 25, 11:00 a.m. - Gov Polis Safer at Home Tenth Amended PHO (pdf)|
|July 31, 3:44 p.m. - Crowley-Otero Country COVID-19 Updates (pdf)|
|July 20, 4:27 p.m. - Newly Issued School Reopening Guidance (pdf)|
|July 16, 3:26 p.m. - Gov Polis Announces Statewide Mask Order (pdf)|
|July 15, 4:00 p.m. - Otero PositiveCases-Pioner Long Term Care Facility (pdf)|
|July 7, 3:10 p.m. - OJC FAQ’s for Students Concerning Fall Semester 2020|
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.
As of Monday, March 30, 2020, all courses at Otero Junior College were transitioned to remote learning formats. Over the past few months 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.
Our Current Status – September 17, 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 Colorado Public Health & Environment Department, as of September 17, 2020, Otero County has 86 positive cases of COVID-19 and includes six deaths; Crowley County has 73 positive cases (65 in Crowley County Correctional Facility) and includes one death. Total Crowley and Otero County COVID-19 cases: 159.
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.
Enrollment for Fall Semester
- Enrollment for Fall Semester 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.
In-Person Classes plus Options
The primary focus for Fall Semester at OJC will be to conduct in-person classes for the majority of the courses offered. Alvarez explained that there will be some exceptions.
“We are intending to give our students several choices for how they want to take classes this fall. There are some courses that will start out being offered as hybrid or hybrid-remote classes. Some in-person classes will offer livestreaming for those who don’t want to come to campus. For those who want a total online experience, they can take online classes through the Colorado Community College’s CCCOnline. We are trying hard to accommodate the various needs and preferences of our student body by offering multiple options,” said Alvarez.
Students are currently being accepted into the College’s residence halls. Room assignments in the Residence Halls will allow for double and single occupancy, with cohorts of students grouped together and social distancing measures put in place.
On-Campus Requirements for Fall Semester
- Students, faculty, staff and guests will be required to go through a check-in process each day to have their temperature taken and complete a short health questioner. Wristbands will be issued daily to indicate that people have completed the process
- Masks will be required when within 6 feet of others
- Classroom and other gathering places will be re-arranged to accommodate social distancing
- Signage will be placed throughout campus to remind people of handwashing, masks, social distancing and other measures to ensure health and safely
To view a full list of frequently asked questions about Fall Semester, go to this link:
Fall Sports move to Spring Competition Schedules
An announcement by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) on Monday, July 13, 2020 set the course for all fall sports at OJC to move to a spring competition schedule.
In making the announcement, Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA President & CEO stated, “Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes. Through a unified effort from our Presidential Advisory Council, the Board of Regents, and leadership staff, our most recent plan of action provides a path that keeps our student-athletes competing at the highest level with proper safety measures in place.”
The most recent plan of action shifts all close-contact fall sports to the Spring Semester. Fall sports teams will be allowed 60 consecutive calendar days for practice and scrimmages, with no regional or district competition. All regional and district competition will be held in the spring with an abbreviated competition schedule.
OJC fall sports being impacted by this ruling include; Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Women’s Volleyball, Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Men’s Wrestling
Preparing the Campus in the Wake of COVID-19
Alvarez said that hours of work have gone into making the campus clean and safe for student and staff to return to this fall.
“Our staff in the Physical Plant were considered essential staff, and continued to work throughout the Safer at Home order by cleaning and sanitizing our campus. They have continued to work this summer to have the campus fully ready by our August 17 start date,” he said.
To ensure that the College is following the protocols recommended by local, state and national healthcare agencies, OJC’s Pandemic Recovery Plan was submitted last week to the Otero County Health Department for approval.
“The faculty and staff developed a comprehensive plan that the Otero County Health Department approved last week. The plan met the Otero County Health Department’s guidelines, thus allowing us to move forward with our plans, while maintaining the health and safety of our campus community,” explained Alvarez.
Currently all staff, other than Physical Plant staff, are working no more than 50 percent on campus. The rest of their work is being done from home utilizing the technology OJC had in place prior to the Safer at Home order.
“We will gradually bring more employees back to campus for longer periods of time, but until we have fully passed this pandemic, or we receive different orders from the Governor, I will not expect all faculty and staff to be on campus full-time as they would have been in the past,” explained Alvarez.
Alvarez also stated that some community events and activities, that were previously scheduled to be held during the fall months, will be postponed until after the New Year in 2021.
“Once again, this is all about timing, if things have quieted down with COVID-19 by January 2021, we will once again welcome our community back on campus.”
- 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.
- 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 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 | email@example.com
For questions concerning financial aid or your bill, contact Financial Aid Director Kelsey Barbee. 719-384-6985 | firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions about getting registered for next semester, contact Coordinator of Learning Commons Hailey Wold. 719-384-6946 | email@example.com
For employment and work questions, contact your supervisor or Director of Human Resources Carol Noll. 719-384-6824 | firstname.lastname@example.org