The College of the Siskiyous nursing program, now in its 50th year, is continuing as planned. But, without the ability to complete clinical training during the COVID-19 pandemic, some students are considering dropping out with just three weeks left in the semester.

Although many skills and concepts can be learned remotely, there are some things that can only be mastered through hands-on experience. One of those things is nursing.

The College of the Siskiyous nursing program, now in its 50th year, is continuing as planned. But, without the ability to complete clinical training during the COVID-19 pandemic, some students are considering dropping out with just three weeks left in the semester.

Some students say they’re not getting what they should be from the class because of the pandemic.

“We really hope things ease up so that the clinical sites feel that they can open back up to students,” said Cora Brownell, director of the nursing program. “We realize that it is a difficult thing for them and they have a lot of things to consider.”

If clinical sites can’t be secured, COS Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Char Perlas said the school would be forced to cancel the course.

“If this happens, your tuition will be refunded along with your $90 material fee,” Perlas said in an email to all vocational LVN first semester students.

The school is also considering extending the semester so there is sufficient time to complete the course, or issuing “incomplete” grades for the 26 students in the course until the clinical hours can be completed. But there are concerns if the clinical experience won’t be available to complete over the course of the next year.

Students could also file for an “Extenuating Withdrawal,” which would allow them to drop the class and receive a registration fee refund.

Perlas said in the email that she plans to hold a question and answer session to “help ease some stress felt by students due to the COVID-19 situation.”

The 26 students in the program can also choose to take an “incomplete” where they will have a year to make up the class.

“We give various options ... because of the uncertainty of not getting back into the clinical sites,” said COS President Dr. Stephen Schoonmaker. Students may be in different places in either clinical rotation or the number of hours they may need to be in the clinicals. It can't be a “one size fits all” so an incomplete can work really well giving the students and faculty members the greatest flexibility.”

Schoonmaker said students that have taken out loans or are in a difficult financial situation upon having to repeat the course can get financial assistance through the Federal CARES Act.

There is also the “step up” LVN to RN program, in its 13th year at COS and a CNA program that is completed in a single semester.

Some of COS’s classes, like welding, had to be cancelled due to the pandemic because it is not considered an essential program.

“I am proud of our faculty and staff to mitigate to some kind of remote instruction,” said Schoonmaker. “They have been very creative. This has been very challenging. We are in our seventh week of emergency status. We are constantly changing. So, it isn’t surprising that the students are confused. We are trying alternatives the best we can. But this has been fluid and constantly changing. We are trying to fill our mission to provide for our students as best we could. Even now it is still changing. So much is unknown.”