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Butler Trustees discuss mask protocols

Automotive Technology student listens to instructor with mask.
Published: Monday, July 20th, 2020

Masks required on campus is administrative decision

Masks were added to the regular monthly meeting’s agenda of the Butler Community College Trustees. The item was placed under Strategic Discussion per the request of Trustee Shelby Smith after receiving an update from the President’s office that stated masks were required on all college property.  

Trustee Smith shared, during the July 14 meeting, that he was confused about a policy being put into place that had not been discussed by the Board of Trustees.  

President Kimberly Krull explained requiring masks on Butler’s property is not a policy, but an operational decision made by the administration of the college. The Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT), a broad-based team at the college, has been meeting twice a week since mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This team, in response to the ever-changing situation of COVID-19, decided this action was needed.

As the college decided to launch face-to-face classes, leadership, like every other university or college, has been working to determine how best to meet its mission of education while also protecting it students, faculty and staff.  

Krull shared that faculty and staff are concerned for their own safety as well as the safety of students. Recent spikes in the number of cases, changes to CDC recommendations, and the Governor’s recent mandate all played into the decision.  

“We decided we need to require masks. The best way to protect each other is to mandate masks, use social distancing and frequent handwashing and sanitizing,” Krull said. “We are not developing a policy. This is an emergency process being put into place and it should be temporary – so as part of our plan and in preparing classrooms and how that works, the masks became part of that decision.”

Krull added, that the college does understand there is no way to legally enforce it. However, Butler can certainly ask people to wear masks when on campus.  She added Butler has masks available for those who may need one.  

Lori Winningham, vice president of academics, explained that she has had an overwhelming response from faculty that masks be required in the classroom. She added the college’s faculty ranks were moving in that direction even before it was decided that masks would be required campus wide.

Winningham added all academic departments just finalized their instructional COVID-19 plans last week. Academics developed a teaching protocol for every class – from vocal music and band, to foreign language and welding. For example, in some instances, masks will not be required in class because it may hinder the learning process in which case other social distancing measures will be taken.  

"We also do understand there will be potentially some health situations which will prevent some individuals from wearing masks and we are preparing to handle those accommodations,” said Winningham. “It’s constantly moving target and gives faculty a sense of security that we are trying to keep them safe and their students safe.”

Krull added, five of the six Board of Regent universities are requiring masks and those decisions were made by university administration. In addition, the majority of community colleges are requiring masks be worn.  

Smith said the language just gave him pause and he asked that the college be specific in its verbiage. He asked about protocols for eating in the cafeteria.  

Krull explained that Great Western Dining is working on their protocols for the cafeteria and those should be shared soon.  

Trustee chairman Jim Howell concluded the conversation by encouraging Trustees and others to frequently visit the college’s resource page on COVID-19 for the latest information. The college is working to keep it updated as decisions are made or altered. The page can be accessed at butlercc.edu/coronavirus.  

The Board of Trustees meetings are available for viewing on the BCTV Channel 20’s YouTube channel.