As an Early Opener Nossi College of Art Hopes Their Information Will Help Others
Interview with Cyrus Vatandoost, Executive Vice President, Nossi College of Art
Below is our interview with Cyrus Vatandoost, Executive Vice President, Nossi College of Art. This interview took place the week of June 8th. Nossi College of Art was founded 46 years ago by Vatandoost’s mother, Ms. Nossi. He has been working at Nossi for 25 years and runs the day-to-day operations as the Executive Vice President.
Vatandoost: At first, we worked with the Metro Nashville Davidson County Health Department and our local leaders to stay open with a hybrid model, allowing students to continue working in labs and studios on a one on one basis without contact. But that ended after two weeks when the pandemic continued to worsen. We went completely online after two weeks. But, the two extra weeks we were able to give the students allowed them to work fast and hard to accomplish studio and lab work.
CER: What stage in the reopening process are you currently in?
Vatandoost: We are fully re-opened, although we have given our students the option of going fully online or coming to campus. 25% have chosen to stay online.
CER: What guidelines have you put in place to safely reopen?
Vatandoost: During the first week back, Nossi College of Art took the following precautions.
- Nossi College will use a no-contact thermometer, allowing us to take temperature measurements without jeopardizing safety.
- Students must enter through the student entrance at the back of campus while faculty and staff must enter through the front lobby. This will also help reduce congestion.
- To get on the shuttle from housing, students must have their temperature taken.
- Anyone with a temperature over 100.4 degrees will be asked to return home until their temperature rebounds to normal. Anyone feeling sick will be asked to remain home until it is safe to return to campus. Anyone feeling ill with coronavirus symptoms or fever will be encouraged to take a coronavirus test and report the results to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Faculty, staff, and students are highly encouraged to wear masks. Any vendor or contractor entering our campus will be required to wear a mask and have their temperature checked as well.
If students ride the student housing shuttle, they will be required to wear a mask for added safety of our shuttle drivers. If students do not have a mask, one will be provided.
Campus Cleaning Updates
Two hand-washing stations have been installed at the student lounge entrance, allowing students to wash their hands before entering the building.
Directional floor signage allows students to easily get around campus while being socially distant.
We removed chairs to reduce the amount of available seating in each classroom. Tables were also separated, so students feel comfortable and socially distant from fellow classmates and teachers. The extra chairs moved to the back of the classrooms, and we ask that they are not moved or relocated.
Students will be allowed to check out disinfectant spray bottles and cloth wipes for no cost. Use your student ID to check out these items. They must be returned before you leave campus. We will also have additional wipes if needed for computer labs.
Our cleaning staff will continue to disinfect all frequently touched surfaces after campus closes each night.
No guests will be allowed at this time.
For more detailed information visit our blog, https://nossi.edu/nossi-the-coronavirus/
CER: Will any of your departments continue to operate remotely during the initial reopening?
Vatandoost: We have allowed flexible work from home with staff when appropriate as well as some faculty/classes that were deemed appropriate. However, the majority of staff and faculty are back on campus.
CER: How will you get your students/staff to implement new safety precautions?
Vatandoost: They have been complying with no incidences. The pandemic has affected everyone in some manner and that has given personal responsibility to everybody.
Vatandoost: Yes, temperature checks for everyone coming in the building, see our blog.
CER: What are you doing for students/staff experiencing mental health issues?
Vatandoost: We have a mental health professional on staff for in-person or remote sessions.
CER: Do you have students/staff that do not want to return yet?
Vatandoost: Yes. We handle that on a case-by-case basis. Before our adjuncts signed their summer contract, all were told our intention to start back on campus June 1st if deemed safe, which it was. We had one not return to campus and they were replaced. We do have some staff that were at high-risk and they were allowed to work from home for their safety.
CER: Are you worried about liability issues?
Vatandoost: Yes, but we are also worried about liability if we are not providing the level of education promised before the pandemic.
CER: Have you put anything in place to lessen the liability issues.
Vatandoost: We have followed the TN State guidelines and suggestions for Higher Education and taken many precautions to minimize risk, but it’s still a risk.
CER: Have you changed your marketing strategies for enrolling new students during and/or after the pandemic?
Vatandoost: We were fortunate to not have to change much due to our digital strategy before the pandemic.
CER: What has been your biggest challenge with reopening?
Vatandoost: Projecting to the faculty and staff all the precautions we have taken to keep everyone safe. We invited the entire faculty to tour the campus before we re-opened to see for themselves what we did and to answer any questions they had. We developed a blog for students, staff, and faculty to review and see pictures of the campus.
CER: Have you received HEERF funds, how did you decide to distribute them?
Vatandoost: Yes, we are distributing them in two sections; an amount for students in off-campus student housing and an amount for all students who have completed a FASFAA.
Vatandoost: Reach out to your local leaders for guidance and exemptions to protect the campus.
CER: Are there ideas you put in place during the pandemic that you will continue afterward?
Vatandoost: Yes, more staff will have the flexibility to work from home, but we must not forget that this is a people business; students need quick access to administrators. We have implemented various online protocols that we can still use in the classroom, such as screen share using Zoom.
CER: What new education technology helped you move to remote learning? Will you continue to use it post-pandemic?
Vatandoost: We were already using Moodle, an online classroom, and that was helpful. We recently started using Zoom and we see benefits to continue using it.
CER: What do you think career education will look like post-pandemic?
Vatandoost: I see students that have gotten a taste of online only education will appreciate being on campus more and having that interaction with peers and faculty and administrators as a real benefit. Our sector is needed now more than ever.
CER: What is a silver lining?
Vatandoost: It’s brought our staff and faculty closer together. We had to trust each other to work independently for the benefit of all of us. We did just that and now we know we can trust each other no matter what gets thrown our way.
CER: Is there anything you would like to add?
Vatandoost: We appreciate the opportunity to tell our story and hope us being an early opener of campus will help others develop their plan for fall. The blog is available for all to see https://nossi.edu/nossi-the-coronavirus/