MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Dade College is entering phase one of its pandemic recovery plan on Monday, which is also when the first summer session begins.

For the most part, classes will remain remote as they prepare for the fall term, but there will be some exceptions.

Dr. Rolando Montoya, MDC’s interim president, joined CBS4 to discuss the school’s plan.

Q: What does phase one of the school’s plan entail and why will there be exceptions to remote learning?

A: Well, phase one entails that very few employees would be at the college, just a skeleton crew. And the great majority of the classes will be offered remotely, mostly online format or other similar methods, like Zoom or Skype, etc. Now, a few classes that do not lend themselves for online education, such as funeral service classes, medical simulations, the police academy, flying courses in the aviation department, etc… those will be face to face. But we will never have more than 10 individuals in the classroom. They will have to be wearing masks and they need to maintain six feet or more of distance between the participants. Now, the temperature of college students will be checked soon as they arrive and they will get that wristband. The same thing with the staff and a few questions will be asked. Those individuals who expressed some symptoms or have a fever will be sent home and they will have to quarantine themselves. Now, as things evolve, we might be allowing a few more courses to be face to face. Hopefully during phase two we will have the libraries and courtyards and academic advisement open to the public, again, respecting all the recommendations of CDC. And then when we reach phase three, again, probably will have the return of everybody to the campus and everything will be more normal. Now, we don’t know when that will be feasible. Ideally it would be on August 1 when we begin the fall term. But, again, we need to see how the pandemic evolves during the next three months.

Q: Give us an idea of how you took on this monumental task to come up with these protocols?

A: Well, 120,000 students is our headcount, but we also have 6,600 very capable employees. And then we have basically utilize our organizational structure to keep everybody informed and to implement all these safety measures that are necessary to protect both the students, the visitors, the employees. Then we have relied on very capable personnel that we have at the college and I’m very grateful for what they have done.

Q: How is the school trying to help them reach their educational goals while taking care of the school’s bottom line?

A: Well, we received significant support from the federal government. We are currently accepting applications for emergency support to the students with the federal funds. And we are sending them checks so that they can cover the extraordinary expenses that they have had due to the pandemic. Simultaneously, with the help of the private sector, the Miami Dade College Foundation has been able to collect significant donations and we are engaging in a very strong scholarship program to cover tuition and fees for the students. Even, in some cases, making the college fully free for them. We are very proud of the support that we are providing. That has helped us to maintain our enrollment. We have just a few more days of registration before classes start on Monday. Right now the enrollment for the summer is very healthy. It’s just a couple of percentage points below than what he was two years ago, which shows how flexible and adaptable our students are and how the help that the college is providing is incentivizing many of them to come back to continue their education.

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