Coronavirus Advisory Task Force helps College of DuPage reach its goals

As we look ahead to the beginning of the spring term in January, we are continuing with our offering of a mixture of virtual class meetings, traditional online courses, and a limited number of in-person hybrid courses, which employ a combination of remote and face-to-face class meetings. In total, College of DuPage will offer more than 3,400 classes.

The safety of our students, faculty and staff is the top priority as we convene certain class meetings on campus. In these courses, students are receiving the required training that allows them to enter the workforce, sit for professional certifications and credentials, and prepare them for transfer to continue their education.

For the spring semester, we are adding new hybrid classes in Computer and Information Science and Computer and Information Technology, which will be offered in the Berg Instructional Center and Seaton Computing Center.

This allows us to open classrooms in two centers where classes are not being held this fall, thereby increasing our hybrid offerings without impacting the density of students on campus.

Even though much of the college's staff continues to work remotely, they remain accessible to help prospective and current students as well as their families.

For example, prospective students can still connect with our Admissions Office via chat or virtual appointments, while current students can meet with Counseling, Advising and Transfer Services online.

Fall semester is in full swing at the college. While our campus may not be the hub of bustling activity it usually is, a limited number of students are working with faculty and staff in person to achieve their goals.

Currently, we have approximately 1,000 students in our hybrid courses. These students can be found in lab spaces around campus - in our Health and Sciences Center, where students are learning critical health care skills in classes that include nursing, sonography and dental hygiene; in our Technical Education Center, where hands-on instruction is being delivered in such areas as architecture, automotive technology and manufacturing; and in the Culinary and Hospitality Center, where students are refining their culinary skills.

The good news is that all is going well. We have screening personnel in every building, where students, faculty and staff are required to use doors designated as entrances or exits.

The screeners take temperatures and ask pertinent questions regarding symptoms or exposure to someone with COVID-19. In all spaces, social distancing protocols are in place, while masks must be worn at all times.

Helping the college leadership team make informed decisions was the Coronavirus Advisory Task Force.

Comprised of members representing all campus constituent groups, we formed the task force in March in order to advise the college's leaders on issues related to COVID-19 and facilitate several initiatives, including donations of personal protective equipment to the community.

The task force was chaired by Dilyss Gallyot, interim dean of the college's Nursing and Health Sciences Division.

Dilyss is a registered nurse and full-time nursing professor who was named COD's College-Wide Outstanding Faculty Member in 2019.

Under Dilyss' leadership, the task force closely monitored the pandemic, assessed potential risks to the college community, reviewed policies and protocols, and provided an institutional and global perspective to assist in opening the college.

In reflecting upon the work of the task force, Dilyss stated, "I believe that we have been an important resource to inform how the college should proceed. For example, I drew upon my own personal experience in health care to help the team develop on-campus protocols for employees and students who are coming to campus. As the year evolved and higher education continued to determine its options, our task force discussed all of the issues and made recommendations based upon our research and expertise."

The task force also helped facilitate the delivery of laptops to students who did not have the proper equipment for remote learning.

The Academic Affairs Division and the library continue working on this important initiative.

This fall, the college acquired 550 additional laptops for students to borrow. We also offer free Wi-Fi from the parking lots on campus and have received hot spots that are available for loan to students.

Now that the goals of the institution's Coronavirus Advisory Task Force have been achieved, we are sunsetting the group. I thank Dilyss and the rest of the task force members for their extraordinary work.

Outside of the classroom, the college still offers a robust calendar of activities, from virtual College Theater productions to noncontact athletics in the sports of cross country and golf.

It is important for everyone to know that College of DuPage is still operating at full capacity, ready to help our students and the community.

While we continue to monitor the pandemic and its ongoing impact, I strongly urge students to avoid a "gap year" by deferring their education during these uncertain times.

College of DuPage is ready right now to help you achieve your educational, personal and career goals.

• Brian Caputo is the president of the College of DuPage.

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