Ten Tips for Coming Back to Campus this Fall

Students wearing masks in the Red Mountain building.
Rebecca A. Eckland

If you’re taking an in-person class or lab this semester, we bet you’ve guessed that things might look a little different on campus than they did before COVID-19. Hanging out in the hallway with your new friends, eating a bag of chips while you walk to your next class, and grabbing a quick coffee from the coffee cart are relics of the past. What isn’t, though, is your pursuit of a degree.

That’s why we worked with our Manager of Environmental Health and Safety Ben Davis to put together this quick list to help you navigate our campus spaces which have new standards to keep you safe. 

  1. Before you leave home, check yourself.
    On the first day of your in-person class, pause before you walk out your front door. “Students need to do some self-screening at home,” said Davis, who recommends adding taking your own temperature as a part of your daily routine. The last thing you want to do is show up for your class with the realization that you’re not feeling well. Also, check to make sure you have your mask before you drive to campus. Masks are mandatory at all TMCC locations.
  2. Not every door will be open.
    Although we believe that higher education opens doors of opportunity, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to (literally) shut some of our campus doors to help keep our students socially distanced. Rest assured that maps and signage will direct you to open doors, and alternate routes to get to your class.
  3. Keep it clean.
    No matter in which TMCC location your class is held, once you enter a campus building you’ll find a “sanitization station” where you can apply hand sanitizer to your hands. You will also find cleaning stations in the classrooms, and you will be expected to clean your classroom area before and after class.  All restrooms will be open, and we encourage you to practice frequent hand-washing.
  4. Follow the visual cues and markers. 
    As you walk through the hallways or if you need to wait in line at Cafe Verde or for some other TMCC office, keep six feet between you and other students, faculty and staff. “We’re also really discouraging students from moving chairs from where they are placed,” said Davis, who also recommends that students avoid sitting in “pods” or closely with anyone who is not a part of their household.  No matter where you sit on campus, make sure you’re at least six feet from everyone else.
  5. Hungry? Grab-and-go fare from Cafe Verde.
    The TMCC Cafe on the Dandini Campus has been completely renovated and will open Monday, Aug. 24 as “Cafe Verde.” The Cafe will be open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday–Thursday, and 9 a.m.–2 p.m. on Fridays. If you’re on the Dandini campus and hungry, the cafe will offer a limited number of grab-and-go options for students and staff.  There won’t be any self-serve food or beverages, and you should probably know that wait-time might increase due to occupancy limitations and limited staff. “Students will need to follow the line staging and remember to socially-distance themselves from others,” said Davis. And, of course: no mask, no service. (Although: there will also be individual masks for sale in the Cafe at the registers.)
  6. Eating with a mask is complicated. 
    The big question: where can I eat?  Cafe Verde has been reorganized to encourage social-distancing, and if you need a place to eat your lunch, this might be an option. (And if you’re not eating, you’re not permitted to sit there.)  “We literally have seats all over campus,” said Davis. “Students just need to remain vigilant about wearing a mask when they’re not eating, practicing social distancing, and maintaining their hygiene by frequent hand-washing.”

    If you want to make sure you’re socially distanced and safe while you’re eating or studying, TMCC locations have several outdoor areas that are perfect for exactly this. We realize this is a short-term solution (it’s never fun to study outside in the middle of a snowstorm)--but while we have sunshine and nice temperatures for the Fall, this semester is the perfect opportunity to study and eat... and enjoy the outdoors.

  7. If you need access to a computer, we can help you.
    If you need to work in a computer lab, the lab located in Sierra 109 on the Dandini Campus will be open for its usual hours Monday-Friday. The lab will not be open on Saturday. Due to social distancing standards, the lab will accommodate a limited number of students. After the first two weeks of the semester, TMCC’s Information Technology department will re-evaluate the lab schedule to accommodate student needs. More specific information about computer lab hours of operation can be found on the website.
  8. Need a mask or PPE? Our vending machines can help you out. 
    If you find yourself in need of an extra mask or PPE, we’ve stocked our vending machines with these items at a reasonable price. Individual masks will be available for purchase in select vending machines on campus for $1.  Students will also be able to purchase hand sanitizer as it becomes available. These options can be found in vending machines at the following locations:
    • Red Mountain Building: Machine #7, located on the second floor by stairs, adjacent from Culinary Arts kitchen. (Hand Sanitizer is also available).
    • Sierra Building: Machine #16, located on the first floor by the back bathrooms (Hand Sanitizer is also available). 
    • Meadowood Center: Machine #41, in the Student Lounge area.
    • Pennington Applied Technology Center: Machine #81, in an alcove by the Welcome Desk.
    • Pennington Health Science Center:  Machine #71, in the Student Lounge area where the microwaves are located.
  9. No eating on the go.
    We know: sometimes you’re running late. Or, maybe you’re always on the go because in addition to being a TMCC student, you’re also a parent and you work a full-time job. However, eating while walking is not permitted (because this means you aren’t wearing a mask.)  “We’re also discouraging students from sitting on the floor,” said Davis. “You can study or eat if you can find a socially-distanced spot in one of the common areas where you can stay at least six feet apart from others and maintain your personal hygiene and limit your risk of exposure.”
  10. Feeling sick? Here’s what to do.
    First, don’t panic–there are a few steps you need to take to keep yourself safe. “If a student thinks they’ve been exposed, the first thing they need to do is to stay home and contact their instructor as soon as they can so their schoolwork can be accommodated,” said Davis.  Your instructor is aware of TMCC policies regarding COVID-19, and can help guide you moving forward. “If you’re feeling symptoms of the disease, the student will need to contact the Health District,” said Davis. You can take the online risk assessment tool to determine if you need to be tested.  

If you have specific questions about returning to campus, please continue to check TMCC’s Coronavirus webpage and email communications which are sent to your TMCC email address.  Any additional questions regarding campus safety can be directed to the Environmental Health and Safety Office, which can be reached at 775-674-7951.