On Thursday, March 12, as organizations and institutions across the United States began to ramp up responses to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, Hesston College put into motion it’s own action plan as a way to protect students, employees, visitors and the greater community against the mounting threats of mass illness.
“While there are no confirmed or suspected cases within the Hesston College community, public health experts have encouraged more stringent preventative measures,” Hesston College President Joseph A. Manickam said on March 12.
Hesston College representatives had been keeping updated on the situation over the previous weeks through regular county-wide meetings with the Harvey County Health Department and monitoring of recommendations by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
The March 12 decision to implement the response plan came just two days before the start of the college’s spring break. At that time, the following plan was implemented:
- All classes moved to a distance learning format beginning Monday, March 23 through, at minimum, April 12.
- Classes for Friday, March 13 cancelled in order to allow faculty and staff planning time to transition to distance learning.
- All college-sponsored spring break travel cancelled.
- Students given options for remaining on campus during spring break as well as for the distance learning period.
- All public Hesston College events both on- and off-campus cancelled through, at minimum, April 12.
- Athletic team competitions cancelled through, at minimum, April 1, as mandated by the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC).
Friday, March 13 update
- Athletic team competitions cancelled through, at minimum, April 3, as mandated by the KJCCC.
Monday, March 16 update
- Athletic team competitions cancelled for the remainder of the academic year, as mandated by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Wednesday, March 18 update
- All classes moved to an online distance learning format for the remainder of the academic year.
In a communication to students and parents, President Manickam noted some of the reasons for decision: “First, in moving to this policy, our international students now have the option to return home and finish their semester with their families without a negative impact on their ability to receive full credit for their courses this semester. This shift in policy will also allow them to maintain their current student visa status and return to the U.S. for their fall semester. The second factor behind this decision is so we as a campus have some sense of stability in direction on our campus through this time of much uncertainty.”
Thursday, March 19 update
- As possible, dorming students encouraged to return to their permanent homes for the remainder of the academic year. Dorms to remain open for the remainder of the academic year for students with legitimate reasons to be on campus to finish coursework as well as those unable to travel home.