School started Monday, August 10, for Fort Scott Community College, and the administration took the difficult situation of the COVID-19 Pandemic and used available community resources for expanding student housing.
FSCC is leasing 30 rooms at the former Mercy Hospital from the Mercy corporation.
“The reason we are leasing rooms at the Mercy building is that we had to leave rooms vacant in student housing, in case we need to quarantine students,” FSCC President Alysia Johnston said.
FSCC students moved in over the weekend to the west side of the former Mercy Hospital building. FSCC is leasing the building until May from corporate Mercy.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” Tom Havron, FSCC Vice President of Student Affairs, said. “It’s in really good shape. Mercy maintenance has been good to help us (accommodate the students). We like having them out here. We are excited about it.”
“There are lots of perks for staying here,” Havron said. “The rooms are larger, student lounges are larger and each room has its’ own bathroom.”
In student dorms on the main campus, two rooms share a bathroom.
Two students are in each room.
One of the student lounges has available the Mercy courtyard, an enclosed outside area, that former Mercy employees and patients may remember.
Currently, there are 57 students and three residential assistants living at the site.
“The RA’s will supervise and make sure the students are safe,” he said.
The students will still be on the cafeteria plan on the main campus at at 2108 S. Horton, just down the street. The nursing stations will be used for studying, with internet availability, Havron said, and there will be tutoring available in the facility.
Students moved their items in this past weekend and stayed at Sleep Inn Motel, until the Kansas State Fire Marshall gave approval of the building, which happened yesterday, Aug. 10.
FSCC had 11 positive cases of COVID-19 when students started arriving in July, Havron said.
They were quarantined, meals were delivered and coaches checked with them to make sure they were on track academically, Havron said.
Currently, there is no sign on the outside of the building that the site is now FSCC student housing.
“We had people who thought this was the emergency room over the weekend,” Havron said.
The west entrance of the building is locked 24 hours a day.
“August 10 is one week earlier than originally scheduled,” FSCC President Alysia Johnston, said in an email interview.”We will not have a spring break and the semester will be over before Thanksgiving on November, 24. The reason we are starting early and ending before Thanksgiving is part of our (pandemic) mitigation plan. We do not want to bring students back from a large geographical area after thanksgiving and risk introducing COVID-19 again. Also, KDHE had predicted COVID-19 would spike in December, with the rise of the flu and cold season, therefore increasing our chances of positive cases.”
“We do not have any new programs or classes,” she said. ” We do have more classes offered online than in the past.”
Despite the pandemic, class numbers are up.
“As of this morning (August 10), overall enrollment is slightly up compared to this time last fall. On-campus and online enrollment are up, off-campus enrollment is down.”