Blue Ridge Community College Coronavirus (COVID-19) Monitoring and Response

 

BRCC News | Published March 27, 2020

Caption: "As our community responds to a global pandemic here at home, remember that We are ALL in this together."

Blue Ridge Community College is committed to maintaining healthy and safe teaching and learning spaces for our students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors. Please read these updates carefully and feel free to contact your instructor, supervisor, or vice president if you have any questions. 

 

UPDATE MARCH 27, 2020 (5 p.m.)

Today, Henderson County and the State of North Carolina issued a stay-at-home order. Because the College has already shifted services online and many of our employees are teleworking, the College’s current operations are in compliance with both orders. 

Services and instruction outlined in our COVID-19 Response update on March 19 are still in place to make sure our students can complete their courses successfully and that our workplaces are safe. 

All interactions on our campuses are in strict adherence to social distancing and other required practices such as making sure there are no more than 10 people, having hand sanitizer available, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces regularly.

Students should call (828) 694-1800 or 883-2520 to discuss the assistance they need and how the College can best deliver that service. Email addresses for faculty and staff can be searched on the Contact Us webpage

Registration for Summer Term and Fall Semester is going on now, and students may contact their academic advisors by email for virtual advising sessions and registration assistance. These advising sessions may be done by email, phone, or other virtual environment and students will be allowed to complete their registration via myBlueRidge. Tuition and fee payments may be made online or by mail. 

We are all in this together and our faculty and staff stand ready to help. Please let us know how we can help.

 

UPDATE MARCH 23, 2020 (2:30 p.m.)

Blue Ridge Community College is postponing its May 2020 Commencement ceremonies and Spring pinning ceremonies. We are exploring alternative ways to recognize our graduates. The commencement ceremonies were previously scheduled for May 9.

This decision was made after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), State Governor’s Office, and local health officials issued guidance to limit mass, in-person gatherings for the next two months in efforts of slowing the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, information regarding alternatives for commencement will be announced at a later date. Updates will be sent through College-issued email and posted on the Blue Ridge Community College webpage.

For all information regarding Commencement, visit the Commencement webpage or contact the Registrar’s Office by email at registrar@blueridge.edu.

 

 

Resources

 

Archived Updates

Dear Blue Ridge Community College family:

As we continue to follow and learn more about the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with your safety in mind, we have finalized our plan to deliver courses solely online (or through alternative delivery) until further notice. We are suspending face-to-face instruction, including work-based learning, effective Monday, March 23. To accommodate the critical need for public safety and public health services in response to this crisis, some exceptions will be allowed and have been outlined clearly by the North Carolina Community College System.

Here is what you need to know:

  • Faculty members will move from in-person classes to delivery of their course materials online or via other distance methods beginning Monday, March 23.
  • Some face-to-face instruction that could not be transferred to online will be suspended until a date to be determined later in the semester.
  • Students should check their Blue Ridge email and online course shell before March 23 for instructions on how their courses will proceed.
    • This document gives information about how courses will proceed but students should also refer to emails from their instructors.
  • Beginning Monday, March 23, the following will be in place to assist students:
    • Students who need assistance, including academic advising, are strongly encouraged to call the College ahead at (828) 694-1800 or 883-2520 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to find out if the service they need can be provided online, virtually, or by email or text. 
    • Students who need tutoring or help with online courses should call (828) 694-1866, also between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
    • The Killian Building on the Henderson County Campus and the Straus Building on the Transylvania County Campus will serve as our Student Support Center and have designated spaces to provide access for current students who need to use Blue Ridge computer labs or access wifi with their personal devices. Students must respect social distancing practices of maintaining a distance of six feet from each other and waiting if there are more than ten people using the lab or the wifi areas when they arrive.
    • The Sink Building on the Henderson County Campus and the Straus Building on the Transylvania County Campus will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for student support services. Students who need assistance are strongly encouraged to call ahead to the College at (828) 694-1800 or 883-2520 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to find out if the service they need can be provided online, virtually, or by email or text. Walk-in requests for services are strongly discouraged.
    • Registration for Summer Term and Fall Semester will continue as planned, and students may contact their academic advisors by email for virtual advising sessions and registration assistance. These advising sessions may be done by email, phone, or other virtual environment and students will be allowed to complete their registration via myBlueRidge. Tuition and fee payments may be made online or by mail. For more information, visit our Ways to Pay webpage.   
    • Blue Ridge’s IT department will continue to provide services to students by contacting the IT staff directly submitting an IT support ticket, emailing helpdesk@blueridge.edu, or calling (828) 694-1895. Unscheduled walk-ins to the Help Desk area are not permitted.
  • Other than the buildings listed above (Killian, Sink, and Straus) to give students access to computers, wifi, and student services, students nor the public will be allowed access to campus buildings.
  • The NCWorks Career Centers located on the Henderson County Campus (Sink Building) and the Transylvania County Campus (Straus Building) will be closed to walk-in traffic but will be providing services by phone at (828) 694-1755 or 883-2550 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Those who need computer access to file for unemployment, must call the Career Center at (828) 694-1755 or 883-2550 and they will be served in the order received.
  • The health and safety of our campus community remains our top priority. As always, please know that we are working to ensure that our students finish the semester successfully.

Thank you for your patience as we all work together to navigate this unprecedented challenge.

 

Curriculum classes at Blue Ridge Community College (all locations) are cancelled until Monday, March 23.

All full-time faculty and staff should report to work the week of March 16.

Continuing education and adult literacy classes will continue to meet. 

Online instruction will begin March 23 for all Seat-Based Classes. These courses will be transitioned to online or alternative formats. Students should monitor their Blue Ridge email accounts during the week of March 16 regarding how their specific classes will proceed.    

Please continue to check the website for further updates.     

  • Registration for Summer Term and Fall Semester will continue as planned, and students may contact their academic advisors for advising sessions and registration assistance. These advising sessions may be done by email, and students will be allowed to complete their registration via myBlueRidge. 
  • All student life events are canceled until the end of April. This includes the theatre production, Traditions Around the Table, Spring Picnic, and the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day events. 
  • According to the Governor’s Executive Order on March 14, all events, meetings, and gatherings of 100 or more people are canceled or postponed. 
  • The Fire Training Center located on the Henderson County Campus remains open.
  • All non-essential travel for Blue Ridge Community College employees is canceled; only essential travel to clinical or for instructional purposes will be allowed.
  • All Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning courses, lectures, and scheduled events are suspended until further notice.

Blue Ridge Community College Community College continues to closely monitor the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19 within our region and follow the guidance offered by our local, state, and national public health officials. 

Here are some essential points to remember from our announcement on Friday. 

  • Blue Ridge Community College continues to be open. The College will continue to enhance its existing environmental cleaning, especially hot spots such as doorknobs, computer keyboards, and other frequently touched areas.
  • Our focus continues to be the transition of many of our curriculum courses entirely online no later than March 23. 
  • Some classes will continue to meet in person. Students and faculty in these classes will practice social distancing to minimize the potential exposure of our faculty, staff, and students during the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • All students, including high school students who take Career and College Promise courses through Blue Ridge Community College, should check their Blue Ridge email accounts for specific instructions on how their particular courses will proceed. A full listing of curriculum (college credit) courses will be posted on our website on Wednesday, March 18, with a description of the plan for delivery going forward (i.e., fully online, continue on an alternate schedule, continue as scheduled).  
  • High school students who take Career and College Promise courses will continue with these courses. Again, these students should check email for any changes to the delivery of their courses. See below for additional clarification. 
  • Students with transportation or technology/Internet barriers are encouraged to let their instructors know. Students may also contact Student Services to talk with a counselor about campus and community resources. 

  • Blue Ridge faculty will be giving maximum flexibility to students as it relates to class attendance as well as supervisors to employees for reporting to work.
  • Registration for Summer Term and Fall Semester will continue as planned, and students may contact their academic advisors for advising sessions and registration assistance. These advising sessions may be done by email, and students will be allowed to complete their registration via myBlueRidge. 
  • All student life events are canceled for the next month. This includes the theatre production, Traditions Around the Table, and the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day events. 
  • According to the Governor’s Executive Order on March 14, all events, meetings, and gatherings of 100 or more people are canceled or postponed. 
  • The Fire Training Center located on the Henderson County Campus remains open.
  • All non-essential travel for Blue Ridge Community College employees is canceled; only essential travel to clinical or for instructional purposes will be allowed.
  • All Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning courses, lectures, and scheduled events are suspended until further notice.

INFORMATION FOR CAREER AND COLLEGE PROMISE STUDENTS:  Here is some important information for public school students who take Blue Ridge courses in light of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's executive order to close K-12 schools. 

  • Blue Ridge Community College courses offered on a high school campus will not meet at the high school while the school is closed. These courses will be moved online or in a rare case may be suspended during the closure of public schools. 
  • High school students who take Career and College Promise courses online or at a Blue Ridge Community College campus will continue with these courses. You should check your email frequently for updates or changes in how your course will be delivered this week and in the future (fully online, continue on an alternate schedule, continue as scheduled).

IMPORTANT: Please know that this situation can change within hours. All students, employees, and the public should frequently refer to the College website for updates. Students should especially check their Blue Ridge email several times daily during this time. 

We appreciate your understanding and patience as we navigate through this challenging situation.

Community colleges and universities in North Carolina remain open. As we announced on Friday, we remain focused on moving seated instruction to online and preparation to implement our Business Continuity Plan to ensure the essential services of the College continue.

Please check your email frequently for updated information as it is changing rapidly.

Blue Ridge Community College Community College continues to closely monitor the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19 within our region. While there are currently no confirmed cases in our service area of Western North Carolina at this time, we feel it is prudent to act with an abundance of caution and follow guidance offered by our local, state, and national public health officials. As recently as March 10, Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina and issued guidance that we will follow to protect our campus community. 

Our focus is always on the safety and academic success of our students, faculty and staff. That’s why we are joining other community colleges and universities across the country in transitioning this semester’s seat-based  curriculum classes to online and alternate formats until further notice. While Blue Ridge Community College remains open and some classes will continue to meet in person, we will practice social distancing to minimize the potential exposure of our faculty, staff, and students during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Many, but not all, curriculum courses will transition to entirely online instruction no later than Monday, March 23. Students should monitor their Blue Ridge email accounts during the week of March 16 regarding how their specific classes will proceed. A full listing of curriculum (college credit) courses will be posted on our website on Wednesday, March 18, with a description of the plan for delivery going forward (i.e., fully online, continue on an alternate schedule, continue as scheduled).  

Continuing education courses and adult literacy education programs will continue as scheduled. We are communicating with outside groups who use our performance and conference facilities regarding the feasibility of future use and evaluating requests on a case by case basis. The Fire Training Center located on the Henderson County Campus remains open.

The College has canceled all student life events for the month of March as well as the spring theatre production scheduled for April. Effective March 16, all Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning courses, lectures, and scheduled events will be suspended until further notice. All non-essential travel for Blue Ridge Community College employees has been canceled; only essential travel to clinicals or for instructional purposes will be allowed.

Blue Ridge Community College plans to remain open to provide student and business office assistance, including the ability for students to meet with academic advisors, admissions and financial aid, use computers, and have access to faculty as needed. The College will continue to enhance its existing environmental cleaning, especially hot spots such as door knobs, computer keyboards, and other frequently touched areas. 

Registration for Summer Term and Fall Semester will continue as planned and students may contact their academic advisors for advising sessions and registration assistance.  

We encourage all students, employees, and the public to refer daily to the College website for critical updates on the evolving situation. Students should especially check email at least daily during this time of transition. We appreciate your understanding and patience.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). North Carolina has established a Coronavirus Hotline at 1-866-462-3821.

As Blue Ridge Community College monitors this developing situation, we are working closely with state and local health officials and taking necessary precautions to ensure the well-being of students, staff, faculty, and visitors. We have established a COVID-19 Response Team of faculty and staff, updated our Communicable Disease Policy and Procedure, as well as our Business Continuity Plan, and are implementing measures to keep our College community safe.

We encourage the Blue Ridge community to focus on preventing the spread of germs with frequent hand-washing, using tissues for coughs and sneezes, and disinfecting surfaces that are frequently touched. Our facilities team is increasing the frequency of disinfection of high-touch areas. 

For students and employees exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath:

  • Stay home
  • Call a healthcare provider
  • Contact your instructor or supervisor

The College is committed to ensuring all students can achieve their educational goals even amid this public health concern. While the College is still in full operation, our faculty are working diligently to prepare for the possibility of delivering instruction online. 

Students will be given the maximum flexibility in attendance by faculty during this public health crisis. Individual faculty members have the purview to accommodate students who miss class time for legitimate medical reasons. Students are encouraged to keep in close contact with their instructors. 

We’re reviewing all scheduled travel for faculty, staff, and students and making cancellations in most instances. Faculty and staff should consult their supervisor as soon as possible to discuss upcoming travel plans.

Please know Blue Ridge Community College is taking the utmost care to ensure safety on campus and closely following guidance from public health agencies. We appreciate your continued flexibility in the face of so much rapidly changing information.

Students and employees should continue to check email, text messages, and this webpage for further College updates.

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. The disease it causes has been named “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (COVID-19). Please remember, the risk to residents of North Carolina remains low at this time. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and are similar to a cold or influenza. They include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

 

Who is at risk?
Of the currently known cases, children appear to be the least at risk.  Those most at risk are those over 60 years of age, immunocompromised, or adults with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. More information on COVID-19,  such as prevention, treatment, and how it is spread, is available on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

Remaining Safe: The CDC recommends that you use reasonable precautions to maintain your health and prevent the spread of all respiratory conditions. Normal precautions include the following:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Foregoing handshaking
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then disposing of the tissue in the trash or cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm - never into your hands
  • Disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces with regular household cleaners.
  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick
  • Staying home from school if you are sick or exhibiting symptoms

 

What is Blue Ridge Community College doing now in response to the spread of coronavirus?
The College's Emergency Management Team (EMT) is monitoring COVID-19 health advisories issued by both the CDC, North Carolina Department of Public Health, and the Henderson County Department of Public Health.  Members of our EMT are in touch daily with local public health and emergency management officials to be able to share current COVID-19 information with the college community.

In order to receive updates from the College, students and employees should sign up for Blue Ridge’s emergency text alerts and check their Blue Ridge email daily. 

In addition to monitoring both the spread of COVID-19 and any recommendations by the CDC, here are additional steps Blue Ridge Community College is taking to prepare for a local outbreak. Please remember, the risk to residents of North Carolina remains low at this time.

  • Reviewing our policies and procedures to make sure they are applicable in communicable disease emergencies
  • Consulting with governmental agencies, professional health and security organizations, schools we partner with, and more
  • Reminding students and employees about respiratory etiquette and handwashing
  • Participating in information-sharing systems specific to this potential outbreak with other local organizations and governmental agencies
  • Monitoring absenteeism and notifying local health officials about significant increases in student or staff absences
  • Enhancing existing environmental cleaning 

 

How will Blue Ridge Community College respond if there is a local outbreak?
Based on the situation, responses could include one or all of the following: 

  • Increased communications about keeping symptomatic students and employees home.
  • Increased cleaning of hard surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards, and desks.
  • Cancellation of extra-curricular events such as Student Life events, meetings, or community events.
  • School closure.
  • Providing educational programming via online learning and flexibility for students who can not attend class due to illness and/or family illness. 

Because of the hands-on nature of our training, online learning may not be a suitable alternative. In those cases, the College will provide appropriate ways for faculty and students to make up the missed class time when the College operations resume. 

As updates are needed, Blue Ridge Community College will send an email to faculty, staff, and students. Depending on the nature and/or urgency of the communication, a Blue Ridge Alert may be distributed.

 

What should students or employees do if they are sick and can not come to school/work?
Students should notify their instructors and stay home if they are sick. For questions, please refer to the Student Class Attendance Procedure.

Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick. For questions about sick leave, please contact your supervisor and refer to the Sick Leave Procedure.