With coronavirus cases surging in Frederick County and Maryland again under a state of emergency, Frederick Community College will start its spring semester Jan. 22 virtually.
Thomas Powell, the school’s interim president, announced the shift — along with the implementation of several other emergency procedures and protocols — in a message to staff and students Friday. He said he expects the college to return to campus in full operations on Feb. 7, the planned end of the emergency period.
Until then, classes will run online at the college with “the intention of returning to the original format as quickly as possible,” Powell’s message read. He said Tony Hawkins, the school’s provost, may approve a few exceptions based on the academic needs of students and ability for classes to be taught safely with “appropriate mitigation strategies.”
FCC meetings and activities should also be held virtually during this time, unless otherwise authorized, Powell’s message read. The school’s game room and fitness center will be closed. Though athletic competitions will continue as scheduled, no spectators will be permitted.
Employees will be permitted to work remotely during this period, though offices including the Student Center’s Welcome Desk and the FCC Scholarship Office will be covered during regular business hours to ensure phones are answered.
Dining services will run Mondays through Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Miller Children’s Center will open Jan. 18, and school leaders will decide on the center’s status weekly during the emergency period. On-site testing will be available for staff.
Main campus buildings and the school’s Monroe Center will stay open during regular business hours, and pandemic cleaning protocol and security services will be maintained during this time, according to Powell.
FCC leaders will regularly assess virus positivity levels and hospitalizations in the county, the college’s president wrote. If the school needs to modify or rescind its emergency procedures, it will notify the campus community directly, he said. The college will be working with Frederick Health to provide weekly COVID-19 testing on campus.
Unlike Hood College, FCC never required students and staff to get vaccinated against the virus. Instead, the school has encouraged its community members to get their shots and boosters “if they can do so safely.”
The first day of classes for Hood’s spring semester is Jan. 25. The college is requiring students registered for in-person classes to either provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours of their return to campus or to participate in surveillance testing at the school on Jan. 24.