Aug 24, 2020

College of the Ozarks to launch fall semester today, Aug. 24

Junior Stacy Roberts, marketing major, and junior Celine Douthit, public relations major, review a document in the administrative offices during the Summer Work Education Program in June.
Junior Stacy Roberts, marketing major, and junior Celine Douthit, public relations major, review a document in the administrative offices during the Summer Work Education Program in June.

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks students will return to their college workstations on Monday Aug. 24, and classes will resume Tuesday, Aug. 25. With more than 1,500 students enrolled, COVID-19 guidelines are in place to protect everyone’s health and safety.

The Summer Work Education Program was successful and has set the stage for the return of students for fall. Because C of O is a work college, and students work to offset the cost of their tuition, the on-campus, work component is essential. All students work 15 hours a week on campus and two 40-hour work weeks each year, which covers about 25 percent of the cost of education; the remainder is covered by grants and scholarships.

College of the Ozarks offers a summer work scholarship yearly to students who qualify. Normally, the summer is broken up into two, six-week terms. The six-week session covers room and board for one semester, while working the full 12 weeks covers the entire year of room and board.

In this summer’s adapted version of the Summer Work Education Program, students worked two and a half weeks to cover one semester of room and board. The two and a half-week session earned them almost $4,000. During the five-week session, students earned room and board for the entire school year, or close to $8,000.

This arrangement, with shorter work sessions, allowed the normal number of students, close to 700, to participate in the Summer Work Education Program in a shorter, or condensed, amount of time.  

Bryan Cizek, dean of work education, said College administrators worked for weeks on this plan.

“We worked at the planning for over a month,” Cizek said. “The day we sent students home in March was the day we were going to release summer work acceptance letters. Due to the conditions with COVID-19, we decided to wait. Instead, we immediately started diving into how we were going to do the Summer Work Education Program under these new constraints. Dr. (Jerry C.) Davis was clear that we should offer the same amount of summer work scholarships that we do in a normal year.”

Freshman business administration major, Eva Howser, worked in construction over the summer and expressed her gratitude for the work program.

“As a student just starting out, and with COVID-19 restrictions in place, I don’t have a lot of options to work and make money,” Howser said. “Because I was accepted into this program, I’ve been able to pay for the next two semesters of room and board. I absolutely love what I do. It’s just a win-win all the way around.”

Fall guidelines

The College established guidelines to protect the campus this fall and made changes to operations in workstations and academic settings. “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself” is the guiding principle as College of the Ozarks campus family members work to keep each other safe.

“The goal of our plan is to remain open all semester, which will require sacrifices and diligence by each member of the campus family,” said Dr. Sue Head, vice president for cultural affairs and dean of character education. “If loving our neighbor is our guiding principle, it will serve as a reminder to each of us that we are masking, physical distancing, temperature checking and hand sanitizing to protect those around us, especially those who are vulnerable.”

Students will adhere to strict guidelines prior to arriving on campus, including self-quarantine to the extent possible and monitoring temperatures. After arriving on campus, students will be limited in their time off campus, thus minimizing exposure.

The College has dedicated themselves to following the following extra precautions:

  • Class sections will be moved to the largest possible classrooms.
  • Students will be required to wear face masks when indoors.
  • Larger classes will alternate days and will make use of new technology, Swivl, so that some students can view the day’s lecture virtually.
  • Larger classes may have assigned seating, so that physical distancing can be maintained, and efficient and effective tracking can be done should a student test positive.
  • Students will have their temperature checked every morning before they leave their dorms.
  • Any faculty or staff entering the campus will have their temperature checked at the front gates.
  • Sanitation stations will be placed at the entrance of buildings.
  • The Pearl Rogers Dining Center will not allow more than a 50 percent capacity, or 250 students, to be seated in the cafeteria at one time.
  • Students will also have a carry-out option in the cafeteria, in addition to the traditional dine-in option.
  • Cafeteria workers will serve food behind plexiglass windows, and the floor will be marked with 6-foot distancing labels.

The Armstrong McDonald Clinic medical and nursing staff have the capability to test those with acute symptoms and perform random spot checks throughout campus as needed. Housing arrangements have been established exclusively for students who are under investigation and/or test positive to allow them to be physically separated from other students.

Staff and faculty members who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate at home until they have recovered.

“Because of diligent planning and based on what we’ve learned from the Summer Work Education Program, we feel very prepared to transition to in-person instruction with the whole student body this fall,” Cizek said.