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Butler Critical Incident Management Team preps college, students for necessary protocols

A welding student wears a mask while cutting metal.
Published: Monday, July 13th, 2020

Move-in schedules, food service arrangements, classroom procedures all altered

EL DORADO, Kan. – The Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) at Butler Community College has been meeting twice a week since mid-March. Their work has included monitoring COVID-19 and adjusting college operations, services, and working and learning environments as needed to provide the safest solutions possible.

The college is preparing for face-to-face classes in the fall. These will be the first since last March as the spring semester forced the college to operate remotely due to the onslaught of the Coronavirus. This has continued throughout the summer semester with all classes being offered remotely.   

Health experts anticipate a spike of COVID-19 alongside the flu later in the fall semester so Butler just recently announced the fall semester will be one week shorter than usual. Beginning one week earlier, August 10, and by removing the fall break in October, the college can meet all necessary seat requirements and still end the semester on November 24. Students will be done by Thanksgiving. They'll receive a longer winter break to spend with family without the pressures of classes and grades. Butler is also planning to push back the start of its January semester and still end on time in May. 

“This means altering everything really,” said Dr. Kim Krull, Butler Community College President. “Our residence halls are altering move-in schedules and procedures. We’re altering class schedules and classroom and lab formats. Food service arrangements will change and masks are now required to be worn by everyone -- students, staff, and visitors, when on college property.

Just a few weeks ago, the NJCAA provided timelines for athletes to return to campuses but in recent days, changes continue to emerge with discussions that most fall sports seasons will move to spring with only some practices and scrimmages held in the fall within very specific timeframes. Butler is monitoring this very fluid situation and will follow any expectations approved by the NJCAA and Jayhawk Conference. 

“We’re devising protocols for regularly sanitizing workspaces and classrooms, installing Plexiglas shields and putting critical signage up across all college campuses for best practices and traffic routes,” said Krull.

CIMT also created a daily self-screening questionnaire to be completed before any college employee or student is to come to campus. Limited employees began returning to offices in early July to help students navigate the enrollment process. More employees will slowly migrate to offices and on campus routines as the August 10 start date nears. 

“We are bringing back face-to-face classes in the fall, but it still won’t be the same as before,” said Bill Rinkenbaugh, vice president of student services. "We know it’s hard to imagine for students and parents what it will look like and, even as we plan, anything could change. This is definitely a moving target. However, Ensuring Student Success is one of our strategic priorities and this is the focus of all our activities moving forward.” 

Butler’s academic division is also working on Plan B and “what if” scenarios. The college is ready to shift to 100% percent remote again if the situation calls for it. 

CIMT has also designated two apartment buildings on the El Dorado campus for student quarantine should the need arise. Residence Life staff is encouraging students and families from states with mandatory quarantines by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to move in early so they can get their quarantine out of the way before classes begin. Butler is working with the Butler County Health Department for guidance on protocols.  

“We want to approach this with a positive attitude. Everything we are doing is for the safety of our students, our employees, and the community” Rinkenbaugh added. “We’re going to get through this and yes, there are some things that will be different, like everyone wearing masks on campus and in class, adhering to social distancing, and keeping group sizes to reasonable numbers. I’m expecting Buco Nation to do what’s needed to support each other and help each other through to Thanksgiving.”

For the latest information about Butler Community College COVID-19 protocols, visit butlercc.edu/coronavirus.