JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- As schools across Wisconsin consider plans to get back to in-person teaching for the fall, Blackhawk Technical College has a two-month head start. The school opened all its summer classes to in-person learning June 22, with the expectation it can keep it up for fall semester.
Jennifer Thompson, the college's marketing and communications director, said the college worked to get some students as back as early as late April, as soon as public health gave them the go-ahead.
The process started with emergency response classes like the law enforcement and EMS programs. Many of the more hands-on classes resumed studies in late May. Now in late June, every summer class has an in-person option.
"We are prepared that we might have to move back to a different stage but right now we feel like we are taking precautions that maybe other businesses are not," she said.
When they opened in April, every student and staff member had to be screened before coming in. Now, Thompson said based on conversations with Rock County Public Health, they're not conducting daily screenings, but they're requiring everyone who comes in the facility to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.
Through most of spring semester all classes were online or involved in distance learning. Students have the option to continue taking their classes online and work with faculty to develop different ways to incorporate hands-on lessons.
"Some of those creative ways that faculty adjusted to doing classes will continue in the fall which will allow those students who maybe don't have the home situation where they feel comfortable coming to class and being around a lot of people it will allow them the opportunity to still pursue their education and training," Thompson said.
In the two months since in-person classes resumed, Thompson said staff and students have only reported a handful of possible exposures to the virus.
In those cases, classes stopped, everyone was tested and there's been no evidence anyone has caught COVID-19 on campus.
"I think that quick action coupled with the advanced cleaning protocols, the wearing PPE that helped make sure that there was no spread," she said.
In case of future exposures, Thompson said the school is remaining flexible, keeping up online options and staying in touch with public health about any need to close campus again.