Face-to-face instruction was suspended March 17 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, then classes resumed, online, two weeks later.

The fire and paramedic academies at College of the Siskiyous resumed face-to-face classes last Monday, May 4, according to Mark Klever, the Dean of Career and Technical Education.

All other COS classes continue online.

Face-to-face instruction was suspended March 17 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, then classes resumed, online, two weeks later.

However, the change over to remote learning meant classes with hands-on activities, such as those related to fighting fires or treating the sick, could not resume. Hands-on practices require face-to-face instruction.

COS has four programs which have been deemed essential by Governor Newsom – fire, law enforcement, paramedic, and nursing. Because these are “essential activities,” Klever and others began putting together a plan back in March for bringing essential program students back to campus as soon as possible. But setting up a coronavirus-safe environment, and keeping it safe took time.

“It was a big process getting (fire and paramedic students) back,” Klever said. When they returned, students signed an agreement acknowledging the risks and agreeing to follow precautions.

“Every student is following safety protocols before, during, and after each class session,” Klever said. Among several others, safety protocols include taking their own temperature before leaving home, practicing social distancing and staying in groups of six in the classroom or lab, and disinfecting their areas before leaving.

“After the first few days of the students’ return, we think all the planning is working out well. Faculty and students are extremely pleased,” Klever said, adding that the students were especially glad to be working again toward completion of their hands-on requirements.

Face-to-face law enforcement instruction is still a week or two away, Klever said.

However, the nursing program is a bit more complicated, according to Char Perlas, Vice President of Academic Affairs.

“We partner with local hospitals and clinics, where the students get their clinical instruction. But due to COVID, those facilities have been exercising caution in resuming activities with students,” Perlas said.

“We hope nursing students will have the opportunity to complete their clinical hours before the end of next semester. But if needed, they do have up to one academic year to complete them.” Alternatively, students can drop a class and receive a refund.