With the start of the Fall 2020 semester, the majority of Elgin Community College’s classes are being administered in a virtual setting. However, some art and science lab courses require students to be present in person. As a result, the campus is taking safety precautions in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Joel Peck teaches printmaking and drawing at ECC. As a professor, he faces many challenges, as printmaking is one of the few art classes that require students to attend class in person.
“I would say the biggest challenge is the limited access we have to our classrooms,” Peck said. “We are running, and [I] am very thankful for that, however, due to the safety guidelines, we are limiting studio access in an effort to limit any possible outbreak. We have limited the numbers of students per classroom and try to maintain our distance. We are following protocol and are running smoothly, just at a slower pace.”
Some of the precautions that the art department and ECC in general have taken include marking desks with designated arrows to maintain social distancing, limiting the number of students in the classroom at one time and making masks mandatory on campus.
Peck and his fellow art faculty are doing their best to administer their courses in this setting.
“I’m thankful that we are allowed to teach face to face at all, even in a hybrid format,” Peck said. “And because our studios require so much equipment, moving into larger spaces is not a possibility. We are making the most of our limited studio time and also connecting more through Zoom. It is a different approach, but we have adjusted and are making it work.”
ECC’s students have expressed varying opinions on the way hybrid classes are being administered and organized.
Liz Gillespie, an art student in Joel’s printmaking class, is conscious of the precautions being taken and has suggestions for changes.
“I would improve [hybrid classes] by adding more lab time [on] a different day,” Gillespie said. “It feels like we don’t get that much accomplished in one lab session a week. I think it wasn’t considered how much time a student needs to make and create art while sharing a space with all these COVID-19 guidelines.”
Gillespie also feels the social aspect of the current class setting makes forming new relationships difficult.
“The biggest challenge I face with all the guidelines for in person learning is getting to know people and making new friends,” Gillespie said. “I think with the six feet apart makes people scared to interact more while we are in the classroom.”
For the vast majority of ECC’s classes, which are being held entirely online, safety is easy to maintain. However, ECC is enforcing regulations to keep the few visitors to campus healthy.
Face coverings are required for entry into all buildings on campus, and all visitors get their temperature checked upon entry.
Since COVID-19 has been shown to be spread largely by young adults, the best way to prevent this is if ECC’s students are vigilant and conscious of guidelines to help stop the spread of the virus.
The printmaking faculty uses vinyl stickers on desks as a creative way to maintain social distancing.