College Congress Covid Feedback and Response

Important Update: College Congress COVID Feedback and TRCC Leadership Response

From TRCC President, Mary Ellen Jukoski and Steve Goetchius, Dean of Administrative Services and TRCC COVID-19 Coordinator

September 9, 2021

At College Congress’s September 8, 2021 meeting, feedback was solicited about the return to campus in the context of the pandemic. TRCC Leadership understands and appreciates the concerns of all faculty, staff, and students and looks to provide information and answers as best we can to the concerns raised during the meeting on the document below.

As always, if you have any additional questions or concerns related to TRCC’s COVID-19 campus response, please contact Steve Goetchius anytime. Thank you.

Mary Ellen Jukoski and Steve Goetchius


College Congress COVID Feedback
Three Rivers Community College
COVID-19 Update
September 9, 2021

At College Congress’s September 8, 2021 meeting, feedback was solicited about the return to campus in the context of the pandemic. The discussion was long and concerned. TRCC Leadership understands and appreciates the concerns of all faculty, staff, and students and looks to provide information and answers as best we can.

This document was prepared because of concerns raised during yesterday’s meeting of the College Congress. Responses are based on CSCU mandates/protocols for all CT Community Colleges to implement and actively maintain and improve as needed. CSCU mandates are a result of directives from the Governor’s Office and the CDC.

Three Rivers is committed to ensuring your safety and encourages your help and feedback wherever and whenever you have a concern. If you see something, please say something. Our COVID-19 Coordinator, Steve Goetchius, is available to you 24×7 via email and phone at / Office 860-215-9007 / Cell Anytime 860-941-7503.

Below are some of the issues that members raised, compiled by Andrew Marvin, Congress President, along with our responses :

    1. Students have been seen on campus wearing masks with valves. These masks protect the wearer, but not others. Can we clarify mask quality and efficacy?
      TRCC Leadership response: Security Staff have been made aware of this concern and are requested to look out for entrants wearing masks with valves and tell them that these types of masks are not recommended by the CDC nor an acceptable form of protection at Three Rivers. Security Staff have a supply of acceptable masks at the Security Desk and will provide them with a more acceptable mask without valves. CSCU has mandated the types of acceptable masks. Link to CDC mask guidelines: Your Guide to Masks | CDC and CSCU mask mandate: Covid-19 Student Policy 6-30-20.pdf (
      Students who fail to comply with the above rules are subject to immediate removal from the campus and the disciplinary procedures stated in the CSCU Student Code of Conduct. Possible sanctions for disciplinary violations range from a warning to expulsion from the institution.
    2. Students have been seen in the building with masks down while holding beverages or food. Can we clarify that masks should be removed only when, per President Cheng’s memo, “actively eating or drinking,” as in physically putting food or liquid in one’s mouth? Can we also clarify the “designated areas” for eating and drinking?
      TRCC Leadership response: We will post signage reminding everyone that masks should only be removed when actively eating or drinking. We will communicate the “designated areas” as the Cyber Café, the Cafeteria, Student Activities Offices, SGA Offices, the OASIS, and outdoors as student group eating and drinking areas.
    3. What do we do when a student tells us or emails us that they are not feeling well? [Note: The college’s Coronavirus Information Hub was shared after the meeting:
      TRCC Leadership response: If someone is sick with COVID-19 or think they think might have COVID-19, they should follow the steps below to care for themselves and to help protect other people in their home and community.
      ➢ Stay at home (except to get medical care).
      ➢ Separate yourself from others.
      ➢ Monitor your symptoms.
      ➢ Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when around others.
      ➢ Cover your coughs and sneezes.
      ➢ Wash your hands often.
      ➢ Get tested for Covid-19.
      ➢ Follow instructions before returning to campus: COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation | CDC
    4. If we are requiring the unvaccinated to be tested weekly, can we require students who disclose that they’re not feeling well to get tested?
      TRCC Leadership response: We can strongly recommend that they get tested and they can get tested on campus when the vendor (Sema4) is on campus conducting testing on Mondays and Tuesdays. Instruct students to contact Dean Goetchius, COVID-19 Coordinator, on where to go for testing. Reminder: due to privacy matters, only the Covid Coordinator, President Jukoski, and Dean Barfield have authority at Three Rivers to ask anyone (faculty, staff, and students) if they are vaccinated. During an interaction with anyone who indicates they are not feeling well, please do not ask about their vaccine status and only advise them to immediately go home and contact the COVID Coordinator for further instructions.
    5. What do we do when a student discloses a positive COVID test? [See note/link above.]
      TRCC Leadership response: Disclosure by anyone of a positive Covid test result should be directed to the TRCC Covid Coordinator, Dean Steve Goetchius via email to: or by calling 860-215-9002. You do not have any further involvement and this disclosure should not be communicated to anyone else. The COVID Coordinator will initiate CSCU mandated procedures that all CT community colleges follow.
    6. Members want as much detail and clarity about contact tracing and testing procedures as possible. Who is tracking this information? Where and when is it happening?
      TRCC Leadership response: Per CSCU mandated procedures for all CT community colleges to follow, Contact tracing is being conducted by the local health districts. See: COVID-19 Contact Tracing | CDC for more information. On-campus testing is being conducted by Sema4 on Mondays and Tuesdays. They are providing statistical information and the results of individuals’ tests to the COVID Coordinator. The statistics will be posted on the college’s website on a weekly basis. The COVID Coordinator actively monitors all COVID testing, communications, on-site protocols and makes adjustments as needed.
    7. Members want as much data shared as possible. How many exemption requests have we received?How many have been granted? How many unvaccinated people are in my classroom? How many positive cases have there been? How were these cases identified? Via weekly testing? Via symptoms? Can we go back to weekly numbers updates?
      TRCC Leadership response: We post on our website as much information as we can according to CSCU mandated confidentiality and privacy policies. We are working to ensure that all faculty, staff, and students are vaccinated or are undergoing weekly COVID testing. Our COVID Coordinator actively monitors this daily with numbers changing daily as attestations increase as more students are vaccinated. We encourage all faculty to participate and remind students the value of being vaccinated. Anyone with an exemption is required to undergo weekly testing. We post data on our website and update this information weekly.
    8. TRCC Leadership’s approach was described as “backward,” “hands off,” “relying on people doing the right thing,” “not proactive,” “bureaucratic instead of community-based,” and “needing to be tightened up,” among others. Members feel we are unprepared for a surge that is coming.
      TRCC Leadership response: Our goal is to keep everyone safe and informed. TRCC actively monitors TRCC COVID cases, vaccination status, community indicators, and implements new protocols that will keep us all safe. We must follow all CSCU mandated procedures, and we strive to implement any additional procedure we can to maintain a healthy and safe campus. Any decision to pivot to remote learning can be made quickly by TRCC Leadership in conjunction with state, local and CSCU mandates. Any change in class modality must first be discussed and approved by the Dean of Academics.
    9. Are we following the System Office’s guidelines or our own? Can we enact better procedures to protect our community? For example, one representative shared that their department has a dedicated faculty member handling COVID questions, reports, and correspondence with the Department of Public Health. Should we be doing more of this kind of thing?
      TRCC Leadership response: Our COVID Coordinator, actively monitors our activities and best practices as we proactively respond to COVID-19. We work closely with CSCU to implement all mandated matters, and we monitor external and community information and best practices to ensure we are doing everything we can maintain a healthy and safe campus for everyone. TRCC’s Covid Coordinator collaborates with all the CT Community College Coordinators, with System Office leaders, and with the Department of Public Health. TRCC’s Department of Nursing and Allied Health has a faculty member who is coordinating Covid related issues due to their direct interaction with the medical community. We prefer all questions, concerns, feedback, and communications come from our TRCC Covid Coordinator to ensure messaging and related data and reporting is consistent, so everyone receives the correct and current information at the same time.
    10. Is there a dedicated feedback outlet for these concerns?
      TRCC Leadership response: Concerns can be directed to TRCC’s Covid Coordinator, Dean Goetchius anytime, 24×7. Please review our website which is updated regularly for information.
    11. What is the breaking point for moving a class or the entire community back to virtual operation?One representative shared that they’ve already received emails from two students disclosing positive COVID tests. How many more should it take for the class to be moved online? How many positive cases will it take for campus to move back to remote work?
      TRCC Leadership response: There has not been a specific number set for moving classes online or for pivoting to remote working and learning. We actively monitor the situation and can quickly take action as is deemed in the best interests of our campus. Again, our COVID Coordinator collaborates with the CSCU leaders, all other CT community colleges, our local community leaders, the DPH to ensure our safety and will recommend a change if needed.
      We hear the concerns from the faculty and staff. There are reports on the national and state news each day of increasing numbers of cases of COVID-19 and its Delta variant. As members of this community, we share those concerns. We are monitoring the situation daily and we are sharing this with our colleagues who are doing the same in their communities. As was done last year when the pandemic first struck, bolder actions will occur if they become necessary. Our decisions regarding shifting classes would include not just an absolute number of cases but compliance with our protective protocols, patterns of progression, the advice of medical authorities (in our region, CDC, and working with BOR), etc.
    12. Many questions were raised about the Wednesday, 9/8 announcement about the A-Wing employee who tested positive. Again, how did we catch this case? Weekly testing? Presentation of symptoms?Was the person vaccinated? The announcement went to the entire college. Was there another email sent to a smaller group of likely contacts? How was that group determined?
      TRCC Leadership response: The employee self-reported to their supervisor that they had tested positive and the COVID Coordinator implemented TRCC’s protocols. Since the local health district is doing contact tracing, TRCC does not know if any sub-set of employees have been identified as close contacts of the Covid positive employee.
      As throughout the pandemic, our goal in notifying the campus was to provide as much information as we can. Self-reporting was the main mechanism last year for faculty, staff, and students to let us know that they contracted COVID-19, felt ill, or had been exposed to someone who had the virus. It proved to be effective. In the case this week, it also proved effective as the student notified the college. The vaccines have given us a tool that was not available to us during the previous year. That combined with self-reporting should be even more effective.
    13. On Tuesday, 9/7, the power was out on campus for hours. How did that affect the building’s ventilation system? How long were people still in the building without proper ventilation?
      TRCC Leadership response: The power outage lasted approximately 90 minutes in duration. The outage did cause disruption to the building air handlers, but these units were quickly brought back in operation once power had been restored.
    14. A member shared that they applied for an ADA accommodation because they are uncomfortable being on campus due to underlying health conditions. This request was submitted to Shaylah Carbone but then had to be reviewed by a committee at the System Office.
      TRCC Leadership response: That is the normal process for how ADA accommodations are handled by HR Shared Services at all CSCU community colleges.