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Sauk Valley Community College ready for the ‘new normal’

DIXON — Sauk Valley Community College is gearing up to welcome students back this fall.

It won’t be quite back to normal, but it will be a “new normal,” said Eric Epps, Sauk’s dean of information and security.

“About 85% of students registered for fall will be taking on-campus classes,” he said. “I think vaccines are getting us there even after this next bump.”

Vaccinated students will be eligible for a $100 account credit for providing proof of vaccination.

SVCC is participating in the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge which is committed to engaging every student, faculty, and staff member, organizing the college community, and delivering vaccine access for all.

Weekly SHIELD testing through the college or another COVID-19 test will be required for all unvaccinated students and employees.

In March, Sauk was among the first community colleges to deploy the University of Illinois’ saliva test through the SHIELD program. It’s not only open to Sauk students and staff but to community members as well from 8 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

With new guidelines released this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling for masking in K-12 schools and in counties at substantial or high risk for transmission, Epps said they are leaning toward requiring masks for all students and staff. The official decision will be made Monday.

A mask mandate would be temporary until the pandemic condition improves.

Earlier this month, the guidelines called for requiring unvaccinated individuals wear masks, but they were tightened citing concerns about growing number of COVID-19 cases and a slowing down of vaccination rates.

Social distancing will still be practiced and class capacities have been reduced to allow for more distancing. Signs and barriers remain in place.

“We are very aware of the possibility of another wave, and we will continue to monitor the district and state metrics and adjust mitigations as necessary to keep the SVCC community safe,” Epps said.

The college has also expanded virtual services and options for students such as online tutoring as well as upgraded technology in the classrooms.

“Everybody is so excited to see all the students back on campus, and we’re excited to get back to being in a more normal environment for sure,” he said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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