Photo Courtesy of Betsy Baquera, DACC Chemistry Lab
From the Office of the President
Doña Ana Community College’s Plans for Fall Education
Face-to-face learning at DACC for Fall 2020 will be using NMDOH COVID-Safe Practices including gloves, face masks and social distancing.
Doña Ana Community College will be reopening for the Fall 2020 semester beginning on Wednesday, August 19, 2020. DACC looks to provide as much instruction as possible using remote technologies, but its faculty and staff are also aware that many of its classes are crucial training for essential workers – some of which must be done in-person.
“We have to work with our new reality. Our aim is to continue to support the success of our students in their academic and career goals,” said DACC President Dr. Mónica Torres. “Those disciplines and services that need face-to-face interaction to be fully effective have been designed in ways that promote safety. We will be following guidelines from both the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the New Mexico Department of Health while continuing to watch for emerging COVID safety practices across higher education.”
DACC will be adhering to NMDOH’s COVID Safe Practices including continued social distancing, the use of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, recommending individual sanitizing practices and requiring institutional sanitizing practices. There will be redesigned foot traffic in DACC buildings including one-way flow and signage providing guidance for users of the building.
DACC will continue telework arrangements for most of its staff and instructors. “Additional professional development will be provided for all faculty as they transition to a range of remote teaching technologies. This training provides support for faculty as they explore the most innovative and interesting ways to support learning in the COVID era,” said Torres.
For instruction that cannot be effectively taught remotely, such as labs where development and demonstration of physical skills are essential, DACC will provide hybrid options with limited face-to-face arrangements.
“DACC instructors are aware that their classes provide education and training for essential workers,” said Saundra Castillo, Division Dean for Advanced Technologies which includes classes in water and wastewater technologies, welding, building construction, HVAC, and automotive technologies. “DACC’s function of training essential workers is necessary for the continuation of vital services for our society,” said Castillo. “We have made plans to reopen our technical labs, with limited capacity, ensuring that we first provide as safe an environment as possible for our employees and students, while allowing for students to gain the measurable skills they need to enter the workforce in these essential jobs.”
Castillo explained that workstations have been altered to allow for a minimum of six-foot distancing between persons. “Our faculty and staff have been busy this summer building protective barriers between workstations to prevent further spread of the virus,” she said. “We will be engaging in a range of COVID-safe practices including requiring appropriate face coverings.”
DACC’s clinical coordinators are working with various clinical sites across the region to establish a safe return to clinical placements for returning DACC students.
“The Health Sciences Division’s faculty and staff are working tirelessly to ensure students’ return to labs and clinicals is as safe as possible by following all of guidelines in place at our disposal,” said Health Sciences Interim Dean and Dental Hygiene Program Director Dr. Elmer E. Gonzalez. “Our commitment as a division stands with students’ safety, successful training and the formation of highly skilled professionals, even, amidst a pandemic.”
Instruction for the English as a Second Language Program and the Foundational Skills Program will be provided using remote technologies and will have an open enrollment option so students can still start at any time.
“All class schedules have been revised to reflect any changes,” said Torres. “Faculty, staff and students have been notified of revisions, and students are being helped to understand what the changes mean to their schedules so they can adjust if needed.”
Tutoring will continue to be provided using remote technologies. Limited availability of in-person services will include the testing center and computer labs.
For commuting students and staff from El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, DACC is following New Mexico State University’s Ready Plan. The plan allows for travel with the expectation that commuters follow all safety protocols including face masks and social distancing, attend DACC for their work or school, and then return to their home communities immediately after. Those moving to Las Cruces from outside of New Mexico to attend classes or work at DACC are required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Instructors will assist students to continue classwork remotely if possible.
Continued contact per email and phone will be available and recommended. For guidance to the right person or department, please call DACC’s Information Center at (575) 527-7500. For the DACC full reopening plan, please visit: https://dacc.nmsu.edu/reopen/.