THATCHER — With public gatherings of more than 10 people a thing of the past for now, governing bodies are finding new ways to function.
For example, Friday the Graham County Community College District Governing Board, which oversees Eastern Arizona College, held an emergency meeting by video conference, using Zoom as their platform. They came together, separately, to consider a resolution on the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss future meetings.
The resolution, unanimously approved by the board, gave Eastern Arizona College President Todd Haynie authority to make temporary policy decisions in response to COVID-19.
“The pandemic is such a fast-moving crisis that’s required some quick decisions on our part to address the issues going forward, to be able to complete the rest of the semester,” Haynie said.
The resolution, he added, was meant to show the public the board supported those decisions and others that might be needed.
It took effect immediately on approval and will continue until rescinded by the board or June 11, unless extended.
“It is temporary by design,” Haynie said.
Most classes at Eastern Arizona College are being held remotely, but hands-on courses like automotive and welding might continue in person if groups can be kept under 10 people. All major events, including graduation, have been canceled.
The college recommends that students with another place to stay not return to residence halls, but will welcome those who don’t have a place. Food service will be by takeout only. The Alumni Library is closed to the public and open to students by appointment.
“The whole thing is definitely a new and different experience, but at least it’s keeping the students, faculty and staff safe. I think these are all good decisions,” said board member Lois Ann Moody.
“This week has been a very long month,” Haynie said.
He praised faculty and staff for seeing that students could finish their coursework, as well as marketing and communications for keeping the public informed of the college’s steps to deal with the crisis.
Haynie said instructors are finding new ways to handle the changes. The nursing department has introduced drive-up testing for exams that must be taken in person. Nursing faculty hand students their tests through a car window, watch as students (they must be alone in the car with their phone turned off) take the tests on the spot, then collect the tests.
“I understand one of our choir directors is having students videotape their performances individually from home, and then he’s going to bring them all together and have a virtual choir performance by video,” Haynie said.
That choir won’t be alone in meeting by video, as the governing board voted to hold their next three meetings on Zoom as well. Those meetings will be held April 9, May 14 and June 11.