IMPERIAL — Imperial Valley College board members discussed plans for IVC’s plan to return to campus during its regular meeting Wednesday, June 17. The talk came after closing and moving classes online during spring semester due to COVID-19 restrictions.

IVC President and Superintendent Dr. Martha Garcia explained the importance of getting back to campus without jeopardizing the staff or students. The school is currently in Stage 2 of the four stages to transition back to campus.

“Our greatest concern as an institution is to ensure that our students and our employees are safe,” said Garcia.

Stage 2 consists of online classes with the exception of classes for first responders, nursing, and some technical courses. During this stage, no student activities are permitted on campus, except for the extension of campus Wi-Fi to the parking lot for students to use in their vehicles.

Garcia said the school will move to Stage 3 in the fall semester. Stage 3 will offer additional face-to-face courses.

While all courses will not return to the classroom environment in Stage 3, courses that focus on labs and are difficult to effectively teach students through the online platforms will. If all goes well, Garcia said more in-person student services will open up by appointment only.

Stage 4, which Garcia said most likely will not be happening this year, will return students to campus completely.

“I frankly don’t foresee this happening any time soon,” said Garcia.

Garcia said she has been in constant communication with the Imperial County Public Health Department, working to ensure the safe return of students. She has been receiving guidance from the county health officer and is making strides to ensure safety measures are in place for the eventual return to campus.

In her conversations with the ICPHD, she expressed her concern about flu season in conjunction with COVID-19 and its potential impact on the community and IVC campus.

To prepare, Garcia ordered touchless temperature monitors to check temperatures of all individuals visiting the campus — students, faculty, and staff. Currently, temperature checks are conducted for faculty members and students interacting face-to-face for the few classes that have remained physical.

Garcia also explained the school’s gym and the role it plays in reopening the campus while it’s being used as a Federal Medical Station (FMS) for COVID-19 patients who are well enough to leave the hospital, but not yet healthy enough to go home.

The FMS was scheduled to remain at the IVC gym until Monday, June 22. However, Garcia said the increasing COVID cases runs the possibility of the FMS extending its stay. She said she foresees the gym’s occupation beyond June 22, but she has not received confirmation.

Only individuals working in the FMS or patients being transferred to or from the makeshift hospital, are allowed in the gym’s vicinity, all others are not allowed in the area. This has led to the few remaining physical classes being moved to the other side of campus. Garcia is waiting for information regarding the extension of the gym’s occupation.

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