Coronavirus Reporting Dashboard
Confirmed Cases as of 12 p.m., September 28, 2020
With the health and safety of our community a top priority, the SMC administration is monitoring the developing coronavirus situation and will post updates here in addition to communicating with students and employees directly via email.
Dowagiac campus offices are open during regular business hours, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The Niles Campus Student Service Center is open Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Virtual appointments are still available for those who prefer that option.
Hours for the Fred L. Mathews Library, Bookstore and Student Activity Center may differ.
The college has reconfigured some service areas to maximize safety. Visitors will need to maintain distancing and to wear a mask when in buildings to minimize risk to vulnerable populations.
For more information, see the Frequently Asked Questions.
Tips and resources for understanding and combating coronavirus may be found at the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) official coronavirus website.
Coronavirus Reporting Form
Use this form to report if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, has tested positive, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
September 11 Update
Published on 09/11/2020
Dear SMC Family:
As we wrap up our first week of classes, I feel very encouraged by the willingness of everyone to comply with all of the health precautions now in place. We are all adapting to this “new normal,” and while not absolutely perfect, we certainly have started strong this semester.
To ensure that we can stay together throughout the semester, it is imperative that we all continue to:
- Wear a mask in the proper way at all times when inside a campus building—which means completely over your mouth and nose.
- Maintain six feet of distance from others as much as possible.
- Disinfect your workspaces before and after use.
- Wash and sanitize your hands regularly.
- Monitor and report your symptoms every day using the #CampusClear app.
Remember our Safety Means Compassion framework—if you see a friend or colleague who may have forgotten a mask or is standing too close, it is your responsibility to politely remind them. It also asks that you graciously accept a reminder from someone else if needed.
I know that being together is exciting, and that when wearing masks we may feel we are safe to engage in conversations less than six feet apart. It is not, and as a person who has spent much of the week bouncing from building to building and campus to campus, I have experienced firsthand the effort it requires to keep my distance while remaining friendly and helpful. Ultimately, I have to balance my desire for you to see me about campus while keeping myself and you all safe.
By now, you have heard the good news that several areas of the Student Activity Center will be reopening on Monday, September 14. We are doing this because we trust students, employees and community patrons to continue observing protocols so all can remain healthy. Please make use of the online reservation forms to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate in their favorite activities.
Unfortunately, we have also confirmed the first case of COVID-19 on campus. While this is somewhat distressing for all of us, it is not unexpected. The case was identified because the student followed proper procedure: monitored and reported their symptoms via the app, then stayed home and obtained a test under the care of a doctor while remaining in communication with our team members. We are living with the virus every day, so we continue to evolve our response to best balance learning objectives with safety. We may sometimes tire of taking these extra steps, but remaining vigilant and committed to helping each other along is the best way to stay together and ultimately succeed this fall and beyond.
Thank you for your patience and for a great start to fall. I’m proud of you—let’s keep it up.
August 27 Update
Published on 08/27/2020
Southwestern Michigan College moves to Phase 3 of its Campus Reopening Plan this weekend in preparation for fall semester.
Offices on both campuses in Dowagiac and Niles will be open to students, employees and the public during regular business hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. starting Monday, Aug. 31. Business will also continue remotely for those who prefer that option to complete fall registration. Classes begin Tuesday, Sept. 8.
Masks are required on campus. COVID-19 protocols such as distancing and sanitizing remain in effect. All students, faculty and staff will check in daily with a symptom-screening app.
Residential students begin moving into Jerdon, White and McKenzie halls in phases between Sunday, Aug. 30, and Friday, Sept, 4, during Welcome Week.
Fred L. Mathews Library reopens Aug. 31 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. after being closed since mid-March. Normal hours effective Sept. 8 are 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Fridays.
Bookstore hours will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Fridays.
The lobby and game room of the Student Activity Center (SAC) will be available to those with a valid college ID. Zollar Café will be open for limited service starting the first day of classes.
The fitness center, pools, gymnasium, fitness studio and locker rooms remain closed until further notice, per current restrictions for this region in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan.
Most Welcome Week events take place virtually to help Roadrunners meet other students and staff, engage in campus life and locate available resources while keeping everyone safe and healthy.
Student services departments — First Year Experience (FYE), Residence Life, the Testing Center, Financial Aid, the Bookstore, Records, Academic Advising and Resource Center (AARC), SAC, Help Desk, Library/Carole A. Tate Teaching and Learning Center and Business and English/Communications faculty —participate in Passport, a three-day virtual campus adventure. Checking in with each department could win one of two $500 scholarships for Spring 2021.
There will be a Mental Health Virtual Townhall to meet campus counselor Candyce Buysse, an online eSports tournament, an online New Student Convocation, an online workout and a Virtual Townhall with President Dr. Joe Odenwald.
Sept. 2 and 3 feature the first-ever Roadrunner Run, a digital one-mile fun run. Take a selfie while completing a mile on or off campus. All participants receive medals.
Capping Welcome Week activities Sept. 4 will be a burger/hot dog take away from the SAC patio before an outdoor movie projected on a large screen in the intramural field, with lawn games and other activities available. “Pitch Perfect” won a summer bracket tournament as the students’ choice, edging out “Good Will Hunting” in the championship round.
Campus Life staff developed a series of videos to view any time, including a guided tour of the trails for running or mountain biking, low-cost tips to spice up such college staples as ramen and frozen pizza with Zollar Café’s Jocelyne Tuszynski, Branden Pompey’s stroll around downtown Dowagiac and Professor Dr. Mary Young-Marcks’ voter registration primer. Videos can be seen at https://www.swmich.edu/welcomeweek.
August 12 Update
Published on 08/12/2020
Fall Semester Update
Dear SMC Family,
We find ourselves about four weeks away from the beginning of the fall semester. This has been a short summer, given all of the planning involved in preparing for a safe return to campus in September. Many thanks to all of our faculty and staff who have prepared for the fall in various ways, whether by serving on a task force or thinking through their classroom activities.
In late June, we committed to prioritizing face-to-face instruction this fall because we believe it to be the overwhelming preference of our current students and because it is what we at SMC currently do best. But we must understand that this commitment requires an “SMC” or “Safety Means Compassion” approach. To that end:
- Daily self-screening will be a critical habit for all of us to employ. Great deference will be given to students and employees who believe they are exhibiting any symptoms. When in doubt about your health, please do not come to the campuses.
- Masks or face coverings will be required for faculty, staff, and students when in buildings, including classrooms.
- Social distancing will be practiced, whether we are indoors or outdoors.
- Cleaning will be a community activity. Everyone will be expected to clean any workspaces or desks they use, even in a classroom, both when they arrive at the space and when they leave it.
At this time, we are proceeding with our face-to-face instruction plan, presuming that MERC Region 3 (Kalamazoo Region) remains in at least Phase 4 of the economic engagement portion of the MI Safe Start Plan. With the physical changes made to classrooms and smaller class sizes throughout the schedule, we believe that with everyone working together, we can be safe and successful.
Because of a few faculty completing the applicable online training, we are putting a handful of online-only courses on the fall schedule. These will be limited in terms of options available and total amount of seats. They are meant as a pilot set of courses for the fall. Advisors are aware and will try to use those online sections to support student interest in those classes.
As we have seen, the course of the pandemic is unpredictable. To best ensure the continuity of student learning, SMC faculty have been asked to prepare for a switch to remote learning should conditions warrant doing so at some point in the future. In making the determination whether a switch to remote learning is necessary, administration will be monitoring criteria such as:
- Governor Whitmer’s Safe Start MI phases
- Local cases and test positivity rates
- The collective decision trends of our K-12 education partners
I shared in my messages last spring that we needed to “finish strong.” This fall, we’ll need to “start strong” to ensure our community can remain healthy and “finish strong” in December. I have no doubt that we will all again rise to the occasion.
July 1 Update
Published on 07/01/2020
SMC Fall 2020 Semester Details
At Southwestern Michigan College, one of our core values is “Excellence with a Personal Touch.” During the Spring and Summer 2020 semesters, the pandemic crisis challenged our ability to work closely with students in a physical classroom and campus-life setting. The success of our students is our driving mission; we know that while online coursework provides valuable learning, the personal interaction between students, faculty and staff—and a total college-life experience—is important to students’ personal growth and academic achievement.
It is our intention to operate as normally as is reasonably possible for the Fall 2020 semester, heeding the guidance of government and public health officials and presuming that MERC Region 3 (Kalamazoo Region) remains in at least Phase 4 in the MI Safe Start Plan. We will have in-person and online-hybrid courses, a variety of events and a residential experience for those needing and wanting to live on campus. However, please understand that this will require all of us to rethink our interactions and adopt additional safety measures. Of course, we cannot predict with certainty the course of the pandemic during the semester. If updated government or health department guidance recommends additional safety protocols, we may need to step back to a more restrictive stance.
Listed below are the specific details about which we are confident at this time but are subject to change as conditions require. Our Pandemic Preparedness Task Force continues to research and discuss other areas of college operations and will communicate decisions—such as a future move to SMC Reopening Plan Phase 3 or 4—when appropriate and with sufficient notice. Rest assured that we will approach fall as thoughtfully as we can, with safety and student success as our top priorities. We plan to operate within a “Safety Means Compassion” framework as a way to encourage all of the SMC community to come together for the common goal of student learning.
- All SMC employees will follow guidance detailed in the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan relevant to the operational phase active at the time.
- All persons will self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms prior to building entry.
- Face coverings are required of all employees, students and visitors when entering or exiting buildings and in all indoor spaces where six-foot distancing protocols cannot be consistently maintained.
- Students and employees will be provided with one SMC-logo reusable mask before the start of fall semester, but may bring and use their own masks if preferred. If needed, visitors will be provided with disposable masks for their time on campus to the extent such supplies are available.
- Common areas and workspaces will be cleaned and disinfected daily by custodial staff.
- Water fountain spouts will be sealed off, but bottle filler stations will remain available.
- Starting September 8, the Birdfeeder and Zollar Cafe will be open during regular hours, but with more limited menu options. They will abide by the necessary serving protocols required by the State and Van Buren Cass District Health Department.
- All vending machines (including on the Niles Campus) will be stocked and operating as usual, with signage encouraging hand washing after use.
- Seating in common areas will be restricted to facilitate proper distancing while eating.
- Students will need to complete mandatory safety training before the start of classes.
- Students and staff will be instructed to disinfect shared items (keyboards, desks, tables, etc.) prior to and immediately following every usage. Materials shall be placed near these items for them to do so.
- The Fred L. Mathews Library and the Carole A. Tate Teaching and Learning Center will resume normal hours, abiding by recommended capacity limits and marked for proper social distancing. Tutoring and library services will continue to be offered virtually as well.
- The bookstore will resume normal hours, abiding by recommended capacity limits and marked for proper social distancing. Face coverings will be required while in the store.
- To date, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases on either campus of Southwestern Michigan College. In the event a case is suspected, College personnel will work with the student or employee to access virtual screening by a local health care provider and, if requested, assist them in finding local testing options.
- In-person classes on both campuses will resume for Fall 2020 semester with reduced classroom capacity as required to maintain distancing protocol and minimize risk of virus transmission.
- All SMC classes will have an in-person component but will heavily use the Moodle Learning Management System to supplement material that can’t be covered due to possible reduced classroom time. Students will be advised by their individual faculty members through the syllabus and initial sessions how some learning will occur through supplemental instruction.
- Students are advised to pay close attention to the format of each course section for which they are registering. Classroom locations may be changing throughout the summer, and students are advised to double-check their schedules in SMC Wired after September 1 to confirm the location of each course section.
- Classroom capacity will be reduced to allow desks to be spaced at least six feet apart. Course sections may be assigned to different classrooms to maximize capacity while distancing.
- Students and faculty will be required to wear face coverings (masks and/or face shields) when entering or exiting classroom buildings and in the hallways and common areas. Face coverings will be required in all indoor classroom spaces. Exceptions may be allowed for issues related to health conditions or for instructional purposes when additional social distancing measures are in place.
- Additional personal protective equipment and/or processes may be required in labs due to the specific nature of the learning environment. Students will receive additional information from the faculty in those labs at the start of the semester.
- Buildings may be reconfigured with one-way hallways or designated entrance/exit doors to optimize traffic patterns.
- Residence halls on the Dowagiac campus will be open for students during the Fall 2020 semester.
- The halls will operate at 85% capacity, leaving five suites (20 bedrooms) open in each building to serve as isolation areas should confirmed cases of COVID-19 occur on campus.
- The existing configuration of suites already allows for each resident to have an individual, secure bedroom area.
- Visitors from outside of the campus community will not be permitted in the residence halls, with the exception of family members helping residents move their belongings in or out of the halls.
- Parents/guardians will be allowed to visit throughout the semester with prior approval from the building Residence Hall Manager (RHM).
- The move-in process will be spread out over several days, August 30-September 4. Move-in dates will be assigned by floor to reduce the number of people present in the buildings at one time. Assigned dates will be communicated directly to the residents in early July.
- Residents will have access only to the building in which they live and will not have access to the other residence halls.
- Face coverings will be required when entering or exiting the building and in the common areas or hallways where six-foot distancing protocols cannot be consistently maintained.
- Elevators will be available for single riders only and may not be shared.
- Regular disinfection of suites and rooms will be the responsibility of the residents assigned to the suite.
- Most areas of the Student Activity Center will be open for use, though capacity may be limited to allow for proper distancing.
- Face coverings will be required for all patrons using the fitness center, and patrons will be required to use disinfecting wipes after use of any equipment. Patrons who repeatedly do not abide by these requirements may have their access privileges revoked.
- The gymnasium will be open by appointment only. Patrons will be required to wear face coverings at all times, and equipment use may be restricted. For example: for basketball, each player may be required to use an individual ball when practicing.
- The Canyon rock-climbing room will be closed until further notice.
- The racquetball courts will be open by appointment only. Patrons will be required to wear face coverings at all times.
- Resistance pools will be open by appointment only.
- Exercise classes will not be permitted until further notice.
- Limited intramural sports will be available and will be limited to non-contact sports. Examples include spikeball, badminton, cornhole, outdoor volleyball and frisbee golf.
- Band and choir activities are tentatively being planned. Students can sign up for those classes either for credit or not-for-credit. Information about performances will be forthcoming.
- Public events on campus may resume starting on September 8, but total group size (including hosts or performers) may be limited.
- Attendees at these events will be asked to wear a face covering when entering or exiting a building and in all indoor spaces where six-foot distancing protocols cannot be consistently maintained.
June 10 Update
Published on 06/10/2020
As part of our phased reopening plan, campuses will be open for visitors by appointment only during limited hours starting Monday, June 15.
All services are still available remotely, but if someone prefers to visit campus to take placement tests, register for classes, enjoy a campus tour or conduct other business, they can do so by making an appointment. The Fred L. Mathews Library, Zollar Cafe, Birdfeeder Cafe and Student Activity Center on the Dowagiac campus remain closed until further notice.
The college has reconfigured some service areas to maximize safety. Visitors will need to maintain distancing and to wear a mask when in buildings to minimize risk to vulnerable populations. Masks will be provided for those who might need one while on campus.
A list of contacts is available at swmich.edu/about-smc/departmental-contacts, or call the main number at 269-782-1000.
May 1 Update
Published on 05/01/2020
Dear SMC Community,
First, I hope you are safe and well.
Congratulations and a job well done to all students, faculty and staff for achieving what perhaps seemed impossible just six weeks ago: completing the Spring 2020 semester. Indeed you have finished strong!
Graduates, please check your email accounts (both your SMC and personal addresses) next week for details regarding our virtual commencement exercises. The pre-recorded event will be available for viewing beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 13. In addition to the opportunity to celebrate in this way, we also welcome you to participate in a more traditional ceremony sometime in 2021.
While everyone needs a break from learning, students please note that the Summer semester (largely online) begins June 1. If you need to take one or more courses, please contact Advising with questions and register as soon as you can. The due date for tuition and fees has been extended to May 15, and payment plans are available without a setup fee.
While the Fall semester format is impossible to exactly predict at this time, it is our intention to operate as normally as is reasonably possible, heeding the guidance of government and public health officials. This means we hope to have in-seat courses, a variety of events and a residential experience for those needing and wanting to live on campus. However, please understand that even this best-case scenario will require us to rethink our interactions and adopt additional safety measures. We are convening a task force with professionals across multiple departments to discuss and recommend best practices. Rest assured that we will approach the fall as thoughtfully as we can, with safety and student success as our guiding principles. Our plan is to communicate more specific details about the Fall semester by July 1.
Again, congratulations on “finishing strong!” through these past six weeks, and I look forward to seeing what you all accomplish in the future.
April 13 Update
Published on 04/13/2020
Dear SMC Community,
I hope you enjoyed a restful holiday weekend. Now that Spring Break is behind us, we can forge ahead toward the end of the Spring 2020 semester. I trust that each of you is staying safe, carefully following the guidelines from State and Federal authorities.
As this semester winds down, we want to provide as much certainty as possible with regard to the Summer term. It is unclear whether large scale face-to-face courses will be possible by early June. I am not sure we will know until early May.
For two reasons, we are moving most Summer 2020 courses to a remote/online format. The first reason is safety. Even if current restrictions are loosened by summer, the virus threat won’t be completely behind us until late summer. The second reason is student success. Our faculty who teach in the summer term need time to prepare for their courses. We also want to provide more resources to help students taking courses this summer to better adjust to learning remotely. (There is a course evaluation component in Moodle for each of your courses, and I urge you to give us feedback to help us better accommodate your learning this summer.) A select number of courses that absolutely require a face-to-face component will remain tentatively scheduled. Our hope is that conditions will permit small groups to complete the lab work.
Students, I know a number of you were planning to live on campus during the summer. Unfortunately, we will not be able to have a residence hall open this summer. With courses moving online, it is unlikely that we can adequately staff and secure the building. Again, safety is our number one priority. I am most disappointed in the necessity of this decision. We have significantly grown our summer housing community in each of the past two summers, with many of you assisting with orientations. There will still be opportunities for Orientation Leaders to aid with our New Student Orientations, and Dean Katie Hannah will provide you the details.
Students, please also note that registration for both Summer and Fall semesters is ongoing, and our advisors are available to assist through email, phone, and Google Chat. It is imperative for you to stay on the path toward graduation.
As I have said in previous communications, this challenging situation will make us stronger. As a College, our course delivery will be more adaptable. As teachers and learners, we will all be better equipped for a world requiring us to virtually collaborate.
March 30 Update
Published on 03/30/2020
Dear SMC Community,
We are beginning our third week of online learning, and I continue to be impressed by the commitment of our faculty and staff in serving our students. We are all developing new skills and tapping abilities in ourselves which, perhaps, we weren’t aware of before this month.
As we adapt to remote work and push through to Spring Break, we have been monitoring general developments and government guidance to anticipate how to best move forward.
- We have made the decision to extend teaching and learning online through the end of Spring Semester on May 1. We are doing so to align with other colleges in the area and to provide a bit more certainty for students and families who are planning ahead. During Spring Break (April 4-12) we are encouraging a break from teaching and learning as much as possible.
- Student workers will continue to be paid through the end of the semester, as long as they remain enrolled and engaged in their courses. We are doing this because we are sensitive to the fact that many student workers were counting on earning this money.
- SMC’s campuses will continue to be closed physically but operate virtually through at least April 13. Of course, we will communicate further should any changes to this timeline prove necessary.
- The residence halls will remain open to residents only. Final checkouts will be available when government restrictions have been lifted and campus has been reopened to visitors.
- Commencement ceremonies have been postponed until late summer. Our intention is to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates in some manner once gatherings are again permitted.
Students, please remember my original challenge for you to stay engaged in your courses, to use the virtual tutoring and advising resources that remain available, and to finish strong. Make us proud of your persistence in the face of uncertain times so your future self can look back at this period in our collective history and be reminded of your own ability to navigate difficult circumstances.
As I have said in previous messages, I believe the College will emerge stronger as a result of this crisis. Similarly, I believe each of us will exit this phase better equipped for engagement with a dynamic world.
March 23 Update
Published on 03/23/2020
Dear SMC Community,
For our faculty and students, I hope your second virtual learning Monday is going well. I know this was such a fast change, and I cannot say enough about the flexibility of our faculty, staff, and students.
As many of you are aware, Governor Whitmer has issued a “stay-at-home” order for Michigan residents through Monday, April 13. This anticipated action aligns the rest of the state in large part with how SMC is operating already, but there are a few changes we need to implement to comply with the order and curb the spread of COVID-19. To that end:
- The campuses will continue to be closed physically but operate virtually through April 13. (HR will follow up with additional guidance for employees.) The residence halls will remain open to residents only.
- All teaching and learning will continue online through April 13, with the exception of Spring Break (April 4-12), when we are encouraging a break from teaching and learning.
This semester will not be remembered as a perfect one, as essentially nothing has gone according to plan. But here is what the Spring 2020 semester will be remembered for:
- Unparalleled flexibility from our students
- Unmatched creativity from our faculty
- Unwavering commitment from our staff
At some point we will gather in all the places that we prefer: the classrooms and labs, the SAC, the commons, the library, the lawn between the residence halls, the theatre in Lyons, the softball field, and so on. Until then, we must do our best through the Google Suite, Moodle, and Zoom. And during these trying times, we must learn that the buildings aren’t what make us a College. Rather, it’s the relationships and the commitment to knowledge for all that binds us together, no matter the medium.
March 19 Update
Published on 03/19/2020
Dear SMC Community,
As we continue this journey with COVID-19, we have seen many examples of everyday heroism from our faculty and staff. In just ten days, we have witnessed a “scale up” effort to shift courses and student support online. While this isn’t the preferred method for migrating courses and services to a distance format, necessity required us to make this bold move. My message to those beyond the campus is that these herculean efforts are the result of your commitment to seeing students complete the Spring Semester. They are great examples of our core values as a “learner-centered college” with “21st century services.”
We have taken appropriate steps as the number of cases in the state has increased, including limiting the public from frequenting our campuses, as well as closing the Fred L. Mathews Library and the Zollar Building. On Wednesday, the majority of our staff began working from home, leaving a single employee in most service units to help with immediate student needs.
We must further guard against the spread of the virus by closing the physical campuses effective Monday, March 23 until April 6. We are announcing this move now to provide additional time for everyone to prepare. During this physical closure, Southwestern Michigan College will operate virtually and abide by the following directives:
- Teaching and learning will continue primarily via the Moodle platform. There may be exceptions, which will be communicated from the instructor of record to the students in the course(s). However, the exceptions can no longer require students to complete work in our various lab environments. We are striving to avoid face-to-face interactions with students.
- All testing and assessment will be administered remotely. Faculty will continue to give students specifics about their exams and other assignments.
- Student support, including registration advising for Summer and Fall Semesters, will be delivered via email, Google Meet, and in some cases, by phone.
- Faculty will be able to access campus for course preparation, but we ask that this be limited as much as possible.
- Staff who can telecommute will continue doing so.
- The residence halls will remain open at this time, although the population living on campus is sharply reduced. (Last week, we limited visitors to protect the community. We have asked students not to go back and forth between home and the residence halls after hearing this was happening in a few cases.)
- Designated staff will continue to report to campus. Note that this definition has changed; please see the new guidance from Human Resources.
Please await specific directions from your Chair, Dean, Director or VP.
Finally, to comply with government guidance prohibiting groups of 50 or more participants for approximately the next eight weeks, we have made the difficult decision to delay commencement ceremonies until later in the year. We fully intend to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates and will communicate new information as plans are finalized.
March 17 Update
Published on 03/17/2020
As the status of COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to change, I am heartened to see how we have come together as a community to support student success while balancing safety. Here are but a few examples:
- Jim Benak has spent countless hours supporting other faculty members as they transition to an on-line format.
- The Residential Student Food Task Force team was able to distribute 136 care packages to students in Residence Life.
- The Testing Center staff and faculty have worked closely to find alternative assessment methods to reduce the physical traffic in the Testing Center.
I realize that you are overwhelmed by the constantly changing information and anxious about what might occur in the coming days. Many of you are balancing the responsibilities of home and work. Thank you.
State and federal guidelines in combating this virus emphasize social distancing. We are now encouraging temporary telecommuting arrangements for employees whose job duties are conducive to working from home but who do not regularly telecommute.
Essential personnel are expected to report to work as scheduled unless otherwise notified. Human Resources has sent specific guidance to managers. We are trying to balance the need to continue to serve students with the safety of faculty and staff.
Temporary work-from-home arrangements are expected to be short-term, and we will continue to monitor guidance from health officials and the need for remote work arrangements. Our current plan is to permit temporary work-from-home arrangements to continue until April 13, 2020.
As I have iterated many times during this crisis, I believe (because of your commitment) our College will emerge stronger as a result of this unprecedented situation.
March 16 Update
Published on 03/16/2020
Effective immediately, all buildings on both campuses of Southwestern Michigan College are open only to students, faculty and staff. The Fred L. Mathews Library, Zollar Café and Student Activity Center are now closed until further notice. We appreciate the understanding of the broader community as we look to preserve safety and student success during this unprecedented challenge.
Classes will continue via the Moodle online platform. All students, including dual-enrolled high school students, will be responsible for monitoring their online courses, submitting coursework on time and adhering to any directions or deadlines from professors.
All three residence halls and college offices on both campuses will remain open during typical business hours. At this time, The Birdfeeder will be open during usual hours offering "to-go" meals only.
The College is working to provide additional remote tutoring options. In addition, campus internet bandwidth has been boosted to handle the expected increase in usage.
Our student counselor will be moving appointments to online and telephone options only. Several different platforms (Gmail, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, Duo or voice call) will be available. Students who are struggling with anxiety and fear during this difficult time are encouraged to keep their existing appointments through one of these methods.Those wishing to make new appointments or to refer others may do so through swmich.edu/counseling.
March 12 Update
Published on 03/12/2020
Dear SMC Community:
As an institution, we value safety and student academic success above all else. At this time, concern for safety requires that we change the delivery of courses to an online format for the next few weeks.
- Beginning on Monday, March 16, face-to-face class meetings on the SMC Dowagiac and Niles campuses will be suspended. Class content will be delivered primarily via the Moodle online learning environment.
- Students should expect to hear shortly from their professors or academic deans regarding individual course specifics. Please be aware that courses run by Michigan State University and Ferris State University on an SMC campus may have different requirements or schedules.
- At this time, we expect face-to-face classes to resume on Monday, April 13 (after Spring Break), but this may change as circumstances require.
- During this time, SMC residence halls will remain open. However, visitors to the residence halls will not be permitted starting on Friday, March 13, until face-to-face classes resume. The Birdfeeder and Zollar Café will remain open during regular hours.
- Student Activity Center facilities (other than the Zollar Café) will be closed effective Friday, March 13, until further notice.
- Both the Dowagiac and Niles campuses will otherwise remain open for business, and all employees are to report as usual. Individual requests for telecommuting will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Additional information for employees will be forthcoming from Human Resources.
- As referenced last evening, on-campus gatherings with expected attendance of 100 people or more will be cancelled through the end of Spring semester. A decision on Commencement ceremonies will be made in the next few weeks.
- We will continue our surface disinfection efforts around our two campuses and will be limiting temporarily the scope of any group meals.
I have the utmost confidence that by all working together, we can ensure safety and student success. I challenge our students to persevere in their studies, to utilize our extensive campus resources, to stay in contact with their professors and to “finish strong.” I know our dedicated faculty and staff will give their very best effort to serve our students at this time.
In spite of the unprecedented nature of this situation, I believe we will look back and see this period as one of great success for our College.
Dr. Joe, President
March 11 Update
Published on 03/11/2020
Dear SMC Community:
As you know, the coronavirus outbreak is a rapidly-changing event. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority, and we are working to consider all factors in a balanced and measured approach to this crisis. We appreciate your patience as we communicate these difficult decisions.
As of this writing, there are still no confirmed nor suspected cases of COVID-19 on either campus of SMC or the immediate surrounding area. Several members of the SMC administration and Board of Trustees participated in a conference call this afternoon with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, during which she provided guidelines for colleges and universities to consider in the context of their local situations. In fact, SMC has already been following many of these guidelines.
To further align with State guidance, SMC will be taking the following steps, effective immediately:
- All non-essential business travel by SMC employees will be suspended through the end of Spring semester. Waivers will be available, and each situation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by each dean or department manager.
- Employees and students should consult CDC guidelines and make informed choices regarding personal travel (for example, during Spring Break week). Employees who display symptoms common to COVID-19 upon their return may be asked to stay off campus and/or work from home for up to 14 days.
- On-campus gatherings with expected attendance of 100 people or more will be cancelled through the end of Spring semester. This includes the Outstanding Graduate Reception scheduled for April 15.
- A decision on performances of the musical “Grease” (March 26-29) will be made in the next few days.
- A decision on Commencement ceremonies (May 2) will be made in the next few weeks.
At this point, all other College activities will be conducted as usual. Classes will meet as scheduled in the typical location and modality, and both campuses remain open and operational with regular hours.
We ask that students or employees who have recently traveled to the countries designated with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice (currently China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, see updates here) or have had close contact with anyone who has recently traveled to those countries or who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 to please notify SMC administration.
- Employees should notify Human Resources at 269-782-1365.
- On-campus residents should notify Jeff Hooks at email@example.com or 269-783-2159.
- All other students should notify Katie Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-783-2185.
As always, if you are feeling sick and unable to participate normal activities, please stay home to rest and avoid infecting others. The generally-accepted guideline is to remain home until fever-free for at least 24 hours. All students will be expected to monitor their online course sites on Moodle and adhere to any deadlines set by their instructors.
In the meantime, you can reduce your risk of illness by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently, covering a cough or sneeze with your arm, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, minimizing air travel and not sharing food or drink items with others. Remember that wall-mounted hand sanitizer stations are present in all academic buildings on campus. Our custodial staff will continue to disinfect common areas on a regular basis, and disinfecting wipes will be distributed to each residence hall suite.
We will continue to take guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Van Buren Cass Health Department as to other actions they recommend regarding the coronavirus, flu or other illnesses, and we will advise the SMC community immediately should we need to further change our procedures.
For more information on COVID-19 symptoms and prevention, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Thanks for your help in keeping our community healthy.
March 10 Update
Published on 03/10/2020
In our continuing efforts to keep you informed, and with the safety of our students, faculty and staff our top priority, here is an update regarding seasonal influenza and the coronavirus outbreak.
As of today, there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, and only several in Indiana, though this is expected to change in the coming weeks. Members of the SMC administration have met and have begun reviewing policies to prepare as best we can for any impact to our operations. We will continue to take guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Van Buren Cass Health Department as to other actions they recommend regarding the coronavirus, flu or other illnesses, and we will keep the SMC community advised should we need to change procedures.
We ask that students and employees who have recently traveled to the countries designated with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice (currently China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, see updates at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html) or have had close contact with anyone who has recently traveled to those countries or has a confirmed case of COVID-19 to please notify SMC administrators immediately. On-campus residents should notify Jeff Hooks at email@example.com or 269-783-2159; all other students should notify Katie Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-783-2185. Employees should contact Human Resources at 269-782-1365.
In the meantime, you can reduce your risk of illness by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently, covering a cough or sneeze with your arm, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, minimizing air travel and not sharing food or drink items with others. Remember that wall-mounted hand sanitizer stations are present in all academic buildings on campus. Our custodial staff will continue to disinfect common areas on a regular basis.
For more information on COVID-19 symptoms and prevention, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Thanks for your help in keeping our community healthy.
Additional Notes For Students
As always, if you are feeling sick and unable to participate in class, please stay home to rest and avoid infecting others. The generally-accepted guideline is to remain home until fever-free for at least 24 hours. All students will be expected to monitor their online course sites on Moodle and adhere to any deadlines set by their instructors.
Additional Notes For Employees
Employees should use their own discretion whether or not to travel for college business such as professional meetings or conferences. If you choose to cancel pre-arranged travel reservations, we ask that you request a refund (or voucher) from the hotel, airline or conference to the fullest extent possible.
As always, if you are feeling sick and unable to work, please stay home to rest and avoid infecting others. The generally-accepted guideline is to remain home until fever-free for at least 24 hours. Please review our current sick policies as detailed below – note that Aetna has waived some fees for those employees covered by their insurance policies.
March 2 Update
Published on 03/02/2020
As you may know, a respiratory disease caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) is now present in multiple countries, including the United States. Although no cases have been confirmed in Michigan or Indiana at this time, it is reasonable to expect that may change at some point in the future.
The SMC administration is monitoring the developing situation. Our custodial team has already increased surface disinfection protocols for influenza season, and these precautions will continue daily through the end of the spring semester across both campuses. We will take guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Van Buren Cass Health Department as to other actions they recommend regarding the coronavirus, flu or other illnesses, and we will keep the SMC community advised should we need to change procedures.
In the meantime, you can reduce your risk of illness by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently, covering a cough or sneeze with your arm, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, minimizing air travel and not sharing food or drink items with others.
For more information on COVID-19 symptoms and prevention, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Thanks for your help in keeping our community healthy.