Photos: College's Fall Return is a Lesson in Safety
August 27, 2020 - 01:59 PM
While the start of Mt. SAC's Fall semester (and 2020-2021 school year) involved most students simply returning to their keyboards for more online classes, a small number of students, looking to become essential workers, get to actually return to campus for hands-on training and classes.
Frontline workers in healthcare and first responders are amongst these programs, naturally. But as the record-breaking heat wave that Southern California just endured demonstrates, there are a diverse number of other fields that our society relies on day after day and workers in those fields must continually be supplied by community colleges like Mt. SAC.
The air conditioning (HVAC) and Welding programs are two that have returned to campus. Here, Welding instructor Daniel Londo explains to his class how lectures will be online, with hands-on training on campus. He stressed the importance of arriving early to class.
A series of safety protocols await students when they arrive on campus for their class, so every student should plan on getting to class 10-15 minutes early. Social distancing is strictly enforced at all times. The website www.mtsac.edu/health/ has all requirements for students and employees, as well as safety procedures everyone should follow to avoid COVID-19.
Every day they will be on campus, students must complete a health screening questionnaire. This can be done before coming to campus.
A temperature check station awaits them next. The one seen here should be the most common. Students merely walk up to what looks like a smartphone to be scanned.
Students sanitize their hands before entering class. These and handwashing stations are abundant in areas where on-campus classes are being held.
Depending on the facility, some instructors will have students wear wristbands to show they have been cleared to be in the lab/classroom.
All buildings have a set directional flow. There will be one door where the building can be entered and one other that will be the exit. It doesn't matter if a student is parked next to the door of a large building and they are running late. Students are instructed to arrive early and enter and exit only through the assigned doors. Disabled students have special accommodations for all these safety protocols.
HVAC workstations have cleaning supplies readily available as students are responsible for disinfecting their workstation after they are done.
EMT instructors thoroughly disinfect equipment that students train on before the next student uses it.
And with all these safety protocols, here is what the current COVID-restricted classroom looks like at Mt. SAC.
Note the ample distance between each student and desk, as well as the additional ventilation system on the far right that was added to this EMT classroom. EMT and three other classes were used as a test run of these safety protocols over the summer intersession. Watch a video about the safety protocols here and another video about those programs can be viewed here.
Plexiglass barriers between stations have been added to the HVAC & Welding computer lab.
And in the training facilities, some workstations are out of use to accommodate social distancing requirements. Classes are limited in size for the space they will be held.
If possible, class may meet outdoors. Here, the Fire Academy goes through its introduction with students on the football practice field.
Biology and other science classes have created lab kits for students to pick-up so their labs can be performed at home. This drive-thru pick up happened on the first day of the Fall semester.
Science professors got a chance to meet their students when the students picked up their lab kits. Normally, they would only ever see their students online.
Other pick-ups of school supplies are happening as well. Students with book vouchers went to the Sac Book Rac to pick up their textbooks as Fall began. Other students may shop the bookstore online and have their textbooks sent to them.
And realistically, it will be a fairly rare sight to see a student on campus this semester.
And thus, the college expects to get very few complaints about parking availability.
All this lack of activity on campus has made a playground for local wildlife. We imagine the abundance of jackrabbits confidently hopping across campus has been a major factor in the enormous size of this hawk found flying in front of building 67A. The college hopes that students will once again be abundant across campus next year, once a vaccine for COVID-19 is able to get Mt. SAC back to its normal operations.