Northwestern College safely re-opens & releases its Return to Campus Plan
[Bridgeview, IL] Northwestern College of Illinois safely reopened its Bridgeview Campus officially on Monday September 14 after a six-month closure due to COVID-19. Its Fall Quarter launch was different from any other in its 118-year history, as there were masks and temperature checks, arrows and markings on the floor to support social distancing, and hand sanitizers throughout.
At this time, the College will operate on a modified schedule for on-campus classes. In order to limit the number of students on campus as well as the amount of time students, faculty, and staff are in contact with each other, on-campus classes will be limited to lab courses, with a maximum of 10 students each.
“During our 118 year history, Northwestern College has never closed its doors for months as we’ve had to do this year,” stated Lawrence Schumacher, Northwestern College President. “We’re being safe. We’re being careful. We’ve thought through an incredible number of details, and now, with this detailed Plan, we are welcoming back our students, faculty and staff!”
The College continued to offer all of its programs virtually since early March when COVID-19 forced the closure of its Bridgeview Campus. Administrators and key staff for the past several months have been developing a plan to safely reopen, one that protects the health and safety of everyone while also honoring its commitment to completion for its students.
Northwestern College’s 23-page Return to Campus Plan was developed with guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the IL Department of Public Health (IDPH), the IL Board of Higher Education (IBHE), and OpenSmart.EDU. Last week it was shared with all students and employees to familiarize themselves with it prior to opening. The College will continue to closely monitor all health and safety issues and follow the most current CDC, IDPH and IBHE guidance.
Critical questions were considered as the Plan was developed, requiring an affirmative response to the following 4 questions before the Campus would reopen: 1)Do we have sufficient health and safety materials and protocols to address the unique challenges of COVID-19? 2)Have we developed a quality academic program for the year (whether fully on campus, online, or hybrid)? 3)Do we have sufficient financial resources to address the unique challenges of the pandemic? And 4)Have we developed the requisite new management and oversight capabilities necessary to manage through the pandemic?
The answers to a multitude of more detailed questions provided the outline for the Plan, which was drafted by the decision-making Committee: the Executive Leadership Team, Faculty Committee, and Mental Health Committee. In order to prevent/limit viral transmission, the Plan incorporates CDC and IDPH guidance on social distancing, physical spacing, hygiene practices, personal measures (face coverings/masks), cleaning, and disinfecting.
All details of Northwestern College’s Return to Campus Plan can be found Here, with brief summaries of the following outlined below: Self-Screening & Entry; Facemasks & Hand Sanitizing. Classrooms & Restrooms; Food & Beverages; Social Distancing & Traffic Flow; Cleaning/Sanitation; and Protocols.
Self-Screening & Entry. Students and staff are expected to self-screen for symptoms prior to entering the building. Upon entry, everyone’s temperatures will be taken with a touchless thermometer; those with fevers or symptoms will be sent home.
Facemasks & Hand Sanitizing. Facemasks covering the nose and mouth are required for all those on campus. Hands must be sanitized upon entry, with frequent hand washing performed multiple times throughout the day. Hand sanitizer dispensers and stations have been placed throughout the campus, especially at places with high touch surfaces and restrooms.
Classrooms & Restrooms. Sanitizing kits will be available in each classroom, lab, and department to clean shared items. Restrooms have been equipped with “foot pull” hands free door openers to reduce hand contact on surfaces, and restroom facilities will be sanitized twice daily.
Food & Beverages. Drinking fountains, vending services and coffee stations have been disabled/suspended, and food is prohibited on campus until further notice.
Social Distancing & Traffic Flow. Signage has been placed throughout the campus to promote social distancing and provide a set traffic flow for high-traffic areas. Gatherings/Groupings of 6 or more people are not permitted, and for the time being, common areas such as the student lounge and various waiting areas are closed.
Cleaning/Sanitation. Custodial staff will clean and sanitize the campus daily; an outside sanitation company will provide extra sanitation services. Classroom and lab spaces will be cleaned at the conclusion of each class, with extra cleaning and sanitation on those spaces by custodial staff at the end of the day.
Protocols. A communication protocol for student and staff COVID-19 positive cases is outlined in the Plan, as well as a return to campus protocol following a COVID-19 related absence. Links to the CDC, IDPH, COVID-19 testing sites, and video resources for numerous topics are also included in the Plan.
“September 14 was a fantastic day!” commented President Schumacher. “To be on the campus again and personally welcoming back our students, faculty and staff was extra special! Though we all had masks on our faces, I could tell by everyone’s eyes that they had huge smiles on their faces!”
He assured everyone that we will all continue to wear masks, ensure those with symptoms and a temperature stay home, social distance, and clean and sanitize hands throughout the day. “That’s what we must do in order to be physically present to learn, so that’s what we’ll do. Welcome back!”
About Northwestern College:
Northwestern College (NC) is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, 230 S. LaSalle St., Suite 7-500, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 263-0456, www.hlcommission.org. The college offers focused career-oriented bachelor and associate degrees as well as certificate programs with flexible schedules and a supportive faculty. Day, evening, weekend, online classes and online programs are available. More information can be found at www.NC.edu or by calling toll-free (888) 205-2283.