CARMI — The education sector is one of many that has been greatly disrupted by COVID-19.
An employee of Southeastern Illinois College addressed the Carmi Kiwanis Club on Thursday, July 16 to let the club know how SIC is currently dealing with the pandemic.
Ricky Sauls wears many hats for the college. He is the career and technical education special projects coordinator, which means he schedules customized trainings, makes sure instructors are lined up and makes sure those instructors have all the materials they need to conduct their training sessions. Sauls is also in charge of relaunching the junior college’s truck driving program, acts as the safety training coordinator for the school, is in charge of risk management, will be certified next month to become the range safety officer and in January will take over as coach of the archery team.
According to Sauls, the truck driving program had been dormant for five or six years, but was recently revived and changed from an eight-week course to a four-week course. He said the last two classes each had 100 percent pass rates and added that two of those recent graduates are already working in Carmi for Huck’s. The next class is scheduled to start Sept. 14 and will be held at the Carmi campus.
The bulk of Sauls’ presentation covered the precautions the college is taking due to coronavirus.
SIC plans to open back up for face-to-face classes in the fall, but the decision on where to meet will be at the discretion of each instructor.
“If the instructor wants to do everything remotely, that’s going to be their decision,” said Sauls, who added some might opt for a hybrid, such as meeting one day a week in person, then conducting the rest of the classes remotely.
Sauls said there will be a strict face mask rule on campus for students, faculty and staff.
The number of hand washing stations has been increased, as has the number of hand sanitizers. Foot pulls have been installed on bathroom doors and Plexiglas has been installed at work stations (such as registration booths and financial aid).
Some larger classes will be moved to former meeting rooms to accommodate social distancing. SIC will no longer allow those meeting rooms to be used by outside groups not affiliated with the college.
The SIC bookstore has added online ordering for books. The students will have the option of having their books shipped to them or picking them up at the bookstore. However, the bookstore will have a limit to the number of people allowed in at any one time. In addition, students will now be allowed to use their financial aid to purchase books.
Every student will be issued one mask, but more masks will be available for purchase in the bookstore.
The cafeteria will be open, but will have a limited menu and seating capacity.
SIC’s staff and administration will rotate work days, spending three days on campus per week and working the other two days remotely.
During the question-and-answer session with the Kiwanians, the subject of a new building for the Carmi campus came up. Kiwanian Dr. Frank Barbre, a member of the SIC board, said the building has been in the works for quite some time, but the college has been waiting on grant money from the state to begin construction. He said the board had recently discussed the idea of starting the project with money from the college, then expanding it when/if the state grant money came through. He noted that nothing had been officially decided though.
The building would be located to the north of the current SIC building in Carmi and would be used for vocational classes like welding, diesel mechanics and possibly classes for future plumbers and electricians.
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