“We don’t want students to give up on their dreams”, SSCC Coordinator says.

Volunteers demonstrate social distancing at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro. (Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Burkard)

Amid the drastic changes COVID-19 has brought to daily life, many prospective college students in the area have been left uncertain about classes this fall — but Southern State Community College officials say the pandemic won’t force students to give up their dreams. 

As community college classes resume in Hillsboro, Mt. Orab and Washington Court House in a matter of days, SSCC President Dr. Kevin Boys said the college’s goal is to meet or exceed best health practices while continuing to provide accessible, affordable and high-quality education to area residents. 

“We’ve now survived a most unusual spring semester and the ‘Summer of COVID-19,’” Boys said in a letter to students. “Now it’s time for us to responsibly restart our face-to-face classes, but we must do so in the safest way possible.”

While some classes will be face-to-face, the college is also offering a variety of online and hybrid learning courses. Where virtual learning is not possible, face-to-face courses will take place in classrooms reconfigured to accommodate social distancing practices with masks required at all times.

The college has also hired a COVID-19 coordinator to implement the college’s health plan.

Susan Morris, an adjunct faculty member in the college’s nursing department, took the coordinator role Aug. 1. She said her position is evolving as the college’s health protocols expand in alignment with Ohio’s Responsible Restart program for higher learning institutions. 

“I am here to coordinate any activities related to the college’s COVID-19 response,” Morris said, “and I’m working with the president’s council to create and implement procedures creating a healthy environment for students.”

Morris said the heart of the college’s health plan is allowing students to continue pursuing their goals in higher education despite the disruption. 

“We don’t want them to give up on their dreams because of this pandemic,” she said. 

Morris said Southern State is selecting “health ambassadors” to help students navigate the college’s precautions, such as masks, social distancing and sanitization. 

Boys noted that the health ambassadors are not “mask police,” but students “who care for one another,” and assist others with understanding and adhering to the college’s safety protocols.

“If we each do our part, then our risk of personal illness is reduced, as is the possibility of any one of us spreading the virus to others who may be at higher risk for grave illness or even death,” he said.

Morris added that the college wants to create an environment of cooperation with students and staff. 

“I just want students to know that we care not just about the physical effects of the pandemic, but also the emotional and mental things that go along with it,” she said. “Some people are going to be anxious about the mask mandate and other things, so we’re here to help them in those areas.”

For more information on the college’s precautions and other news, go to sscc.edu, email [email protected] or call the college directly at 937-393-3431. 

“We’re staying focused on what’s important,” Morris said. “We want to create a safe environment to enhance the students’ learning experience at Southern State.” 

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.

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