COCC board announces winter term plan, talks financial challenges from pandemic

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Photo by Sarah Lightley

Sitting in on COCC’s board of directors meeting to get the scoop on next term

Kate Couch/The Broadside

With everything up in the air whether that’s school, work, home life, or even whether your Hawaii vacation is going to be canceled or not; it seems like nobody knows what’s going to happen. Luckily Central Oregon Community College is making plans for next term. The board of directors’ met last week to deliver COCC’s plan for the winter term.

https://www.midoregon.com/accounts/student.shtml

Below are the regulations for the 2021 school year as of Oct. 22, 2020.

  • Face masks are required, and face coverings will not be accepted
  • All supervisors required to complete personal safety training
  • Social distancing will be required in in-person situations.

For the following reasons COCC has decided to continue virtual and online classes for the winter 2021 term

  • Because of the upcoming flu season and cold weather forcing people to stay indoors restricting the ability of outdoor classes.
  • The study of other institutions and the observation of their failures and spike in COVID-19 cases
  • The unfortunate decline in positive progress COVID-19 has made in Oregon

COCC Board of Administrators and faculty believes that COVID-19 has gotten worse as of late, and the situation is more intense than how it was assessed this fall.

Other decisions made for the 2021 school year:

  • The residence hall will not be open for winter term
  • They will continue to offer the same technical classes that are needed to meet graduation requirements and that COCC feels can only be taught in person to be effective.
  • They plan to add some additional classes to the in-person schedule
  • They plan to have 80% of winter term classes be online
  • Campus facilities will remain closed to the public except for things like blood drives in very small controlled events
  • COCC plans and hopes to be open to in-person classes fall 2021

Classes that will hopefully be added to the Winter 2021 In-Person portfolio:

  • Some art classes like ceramics and metal jewelry making
  • Some music classes like one-on-one lessons and small ensembles
  • Outdoor classes like snowshoeing and skiing

COCC will consider opening the following buildings to the public in Spring 2021 and in Fall 2021

  • The residence hall
  • Campus facilities- like cap services and the library
  • Student services

Why have they made these decisions?

COCC faculty and board directors have been working hard the past couple of months studying other schools of similar sizes who were open for more in-person classes they found negative results and spikes in COVID-19 cases. COCC also looked into rapid testing but decided that it would be ineffective for our situation. They looked at other schools that did distance learning and found other negative results. They had come to the decision for the best of faculty and students, that COCC will remain mostly closed in 2021.

Will this have a financial impact on the school?

Unfortunately, COCC has taken a large hit due to our facilities being closed and having a loss in revenue not only in general students’ attendance but in things like the residence hall and student services. COCC lost an estimated $3.6 million in revenue due to the residence hall being closed.

COCC will be saving some money since along with those services being shut down, we won’t have to spend as much money to uphold those services. For example, a large portion of the revenue earned from the food court goes directly back into paying for the food and for the people who prepare it. Even though this is helpful it will not offset the large financial setback that COCC has taken.

Other things that were mentioned in the meeting

  • In Spring 2021, COCC offered a voluntary layoff (separation) and 16 faculty members took this opportunity
  • COCC currently has 30 to 40 on-campus employees
  • There was also a large staff cut in areas like custodial work or where COCC felt like their services will not be needed due to current situations this has saved COCC quite a bit of money
  • COCC plans to save $15 million with continuous budgeting and avoiding unnecessary repairs, which will minimize the possibility of having to relocate in the future.
  • COCC is using the audit they received to provide future Financial Security
  • They had students and faculty members speak up about their concerns which they will consider adjusting the learning situation in future terms

Even though this year has been very difficult and stretched COCC in many ways has been making the right moves. COCC has a positive outlook on the future of our school while making large strides and smart financial decisions to keep COCC afloat in years to come.

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