New school year, new policies: HCC reopens

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Courtesy of Hillsborough Community College

Photographed above are one of the many “COVID Kiosks” scattered around campus.

Yacob Reyes, Editor-in-Chief

Five months after its closure in March, Hillsborough Community College welcomed students back to campuses on Aug. 17 for the 16-week Fall 2020 term. 

As expected, this reopening came with many changes to ensure the safety and health of those returning. 

These changes include requiring all faculty, staff and students to wear face masks while on college property, rearranging classrooms and common areas to allow social distancing and increasing the frequency and level of cleaning services in high traffic surface areas.

HCC has also provided “COVID Kiosks” throughout various HCC facilities for mask distribution, mobile temperature checks and dispensing hand sanitizer.

To further cement these policies in students’ minds, signage has been installed to encourage social distancing, the usage of masks and to guide movement throughout public campus spaces.

The College will implement the Hawk Tracing protocol if a person who has been at HCC facilities tests positive for COVID-19. Unlike contact tracing, which traces back each close contact an affected individual may have had with others, the Hawk Tracing protocol focuses specifically on the contact individuals may have had with public spaces on campus.

The college administration will coordinate efforts with the Hillsborough County Health Department to address the people and spaces that may have been affected.

The three-phase reopening plan, “Returning to the Nest,” began on July 20, after consultation with local health officials and surveys from faculty and students to create a safe learning environment. 

The reopening plan is published on HCC’s official website alongside a letter from College President Ken Atwater. 

In the letter, Atwater thanked the HCC community for their flexibility and support in this complex and ever-changing situation. 

“Your perseverance and resiliency in the face of this pandemic have been an inspiration to me. These same qualities will allow us to return to campus with Hawk spirit and pride on full display,” Atwater said.

Only a limited number of in-person classes were offered for the fall semester, with the College emphasizing hybrid and online-only courses.

While the fall semester began this week, HCC is still offering late-start classes that begin throughout the semester with various course lengths. 

The Hawkeye will monitor the changes to the College’s plans as the situation continues to unfold.

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