AACC will require students returning to campus this fall to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit proof of a negative COVID test every week starting Oct. 1.
The same rule applies to faculty and staff, AACC President Dawn Lindsay announced in late August.
In addition, anyone entering any campus building must wear a face mask. Students and faculty members will wear masks in classrooms, although faculty may remove their masks while working alone in their offices. Masks are not required outdoors.
The Arnold, Arundel Mills and Glen Burnie Town Center campuses opened for the fall semester on Monday. AACC is offering 16% of its classes face-to-face this semester and another 12% in a hybrid format–which means mostly online with some on-campus meetings. The remainder of courses have online-only sections or are “online SYNC”–mostly online with at least one required virtual meeting per week via Teams, Zoom or another remote platform.
The Andrew G. Truxal Library, the Information Desk in the Student Services Center and the financial aid office, among other on-campus services, also opened. Chick-fil-A opened in the new Health and Life Sciences building, while Subway and The Hawk’s Nest Grill & Deli remain closed.
“I’m excited they’re letting us back in,” Nate Cook, fourth-year culinary student, said. “I’ve been seriously missing the physical, social aspect.”
In March 2020, AACC closed its campuses because of the pandemic and has gradually allowed some face-to-face classes to return. Since then, the college has offered most of its courses online only.
“Health and safety have been a top priority,” Dan Baum, executive director of the Office of Strategic Communications, said. The college is “strongly encouraging people to get vaccinated.”
In fact, students can get their COVID-19 vaccines on the Arnold Campus, which is a vaccination site for the county.
AACC this semester has resumed courses in person, online and in a hybrid format, which is partly online and partly in person.
While students are “definitely signing up for in-person [classes], there are a lot of people who value the online [format] for flexibility,” Baum said. “There’s definitely an interest in both formats.”
According to Baum, students prefer to take hands-on of classes in person and subjects they can manage remotely, online.
“Different students learn better in different environments, so providing students with the widest variety of options for how they want to take their courses gives students the most opportunities to succeed,” Joey Ort, a first-year engineering transfer student, said.
Cook said he and up to five baking production classmates per session will be preparing food like they would before the campuses shut down last year.
“When the lockdown happened, [culinary students] had to bake at home, but some, like me, don’t have the tools or ease of access to ingredients like [AACC] does,” Cook said. “It was hard finding anything … so it made everything much harder.”
My classmates and I “have to wear masks and social distance,” Cook said. “I’m vaccinated too, so as long as everyone else follows protocol, I’m happy and feel safe.”
The custodial staff will sanitize classrooms and hard surfaces in common areas every weeknight. They also will disinfect shared computers several times per week and have posted hand-washing instruction signs in and around restrooms.
“They’re doing everything right by my standards at least,” Cook said. It “seems like AACC actually cares for its students’ safety, and that’s just great.”