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FULTON • Itawamba Community College released a “reopening guide” and announced plans to welcome students back to campus for the fall semester on Aug. 17.

The college also provided details regarding educational delivery methods, student activities and athletics.

Recommendations for the scheduled reopening were made by ICC’s 21-member Reopening Task Force, which was created to examine a range of topics including campus operations, sanitation, residence halls and academics.

In total, approximately 100 administrators, faculty, staff and students were involved in the reopening process through the task force and additional participation in committees for each area.

After suspending in-person operations and transitioning to online instruction in late-March due to COVID-19, the college’s focus has been on returning to campus, ICC President Dr. Jay Allen said.

Both in-person and hybrid classes will be taught this fall, with almost all in-person instruction and final exams concluding by Nov. 20, the Friday before Thanksgiving break.

“We will start on time and finish early,” Allen said.

Instructors will likely continue to teach online and remote classes while resuming some in-person classes, but physical distancing will be essential, Allen said.

Classrooms and labs will be adjusted and de-densified to allow for physical distancing, and while wearing face masks will be encouraged, they will not be required for students. Additional hand sanitizing stations will be available and signage outlining cleaning procedures set by the Centers for Disease Control will be placed throughout buildings.

“The 2020 fall semester will not look the same as those previously at ICC,” Allen said. “The driving factor behind our decisions will continue to be the health, safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff.”

ICC has taken several steps to enhance overall safety campus-wide, including escalating cleaning standards, establishing a supply chain for personal protective equipment and collaborating with local healthcare facilities.

Residence hall move-in schedules will be adjusted to allow for staggered times and limited interactions. A nurse educator will explain the use of PPE and symptoms of COVID-19 to residence hall directors and assistants.

Enhanced education will be provided for student athletes regarding new protocols, procedures and guidelines as they begin returning to campus in July and August. Athletes’ thermal temperatures will be checked daily, and athletic facilities will be sanitized regularly as athletes adhere to staggered times in weight rooms, locker rooms, etc.

“We also anticipate that large gatherings will be strictly limited and regulated due to CDC and MSDH guidelines,” Allen said. “We can and will do this in a responsible manner that works to mitigate risk to the entire college community while preserving the high-quality ICC education and the collegiate experience for which we are known.”

A system for students to self-report and track COVID-19 systems will be implemented during the fall semester.

Allen said the recommendations for reopening are “a living document, one that we will review on a regular basis.”

“The last four months have been unprecedented and difficult in so many ways, and for many in our communities, devastating,” Allen said. “Together, we will navigate the new challenges, and together we will find a path forward.”

More information will continue to be released regarding ICC’s reopening procedures at http://www.iccms.edu/Coronavirus#reopen.

blake.alsup@journalinc.com

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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