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Colleges are making changes as holiday breaks are quickly approaching

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) - Hawkeye Community College and Wartburg College have made some changes as they prepare for the long holiday break that's fast approaching.

Many students may remember being on spring break last school year, when they were eventually told they couldn't return to learning in the classroom because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, during a pandemic, traveling and gathering with family and friends while away from school comes with many risks.

The Hawkeye Community College campus has been quiet. On Monday November 16 all face-to-face lecture type classes were moved to remote and online formats. However, some labs and hands on classes are still being held in person.

"We did that because we saw an increase in numbers of reports of people in our campus community, our students and our employees who either had contracted COVID-19 or were exposed to COVID-19," Hawkeye Community College Executive Vice President Dione Somerville said.

As the long winter break is right around the corner, Hawkeye is still unsure what changes will be made going into next semester.

"We would hope to make that decision early enough so that people could plan. It's always something that we will continue to look at because we want to make sure that we're doing what's best, and what's safest, for our campus community. Our goal is to make sure we can accommodate all of our learners on campus," Somerville said.

At Wartburg College in Waverly classes are still looking as close to normal as they could be. The hybrid model they have been following this school year is what they are planning on following next semester as well.

Final exams for this current semester will, however, be held remotely after the Thanksgiving break.

"We don't actually come back into residency. Well come back into academic session, but it'll be remote, and that was planned all along to try to mitigate and really eliminate the return from Thanksgiving break," Wartburg College Student Life Vice President Dan Kittle said.

Another change coming to Wartburg is the start of the second semester. Classes will go back in session almost two weeks later than in a normal school year.

"We wanted to get out of that window of that ten to fourteen day window after that potential point of exposure both for our students as well as for our faculty and staff," Kittle said.

Wartburg and Hawkeye colleges work with health department and base their decisions off of CDC projections and guidelines. Both schools plan to make changes as needed once classes start back up again next semester.

The colleges also hope their students act responsibly if they do decide to travel and gather with family or friends during the holiday season. Limiting the number of people gathering and keeping up with good hand hygiene being top priorities while away.

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Diego Hernandez

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