QUINCY — Working on finalizing a plan to meet the state’s new requirements that faculty, staff, and students be vaccinated or tested weekly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was a recurring topic through Wednesday night’s board of trustees meeting for John Wood Community College.
“We all must do our part to maintain the safest environment for our students, faculty and staff,” school president Mike Elbe said. “Reducing exposure to the virus is how we protect lives, be it through vaccination or simple testing. Be assured we are working through a process to make decisions in the greatest good of our College and the community.”
As of Wednesday, the school has received information that around 350 members of the staff and faculty — 53% — have been fully vaccinated. This number is roughly the same as the Adams County population as a whole, which has just over 51% of residents age 18-64 as being vaccinated.
The student population of the school stands at around 9% having provided vaccination information. With this being a new requirement just recently announced, the school believes that the actual percentage is higher and it’s simply a matter of getting the students to report their information.
Elbe told the board that if the numbers stayed right where they are now, the college would be looking at testing between 2,500 and 2,800 staff and students on a weekly basis when the new mandate becomes effective on October 4. At the main campus and at the remote locations, JWCC is currently looking to add five staff members to help with the testing.
Elbe said with the requirements still being so recently announced, the school is still working out all of the details to make sure they stay in compliance with state mandates.
The board meeting Wednesday followed the JWCC trustees participating in a two-hour training session facilitated by legal counsel Jim Rapp. Four hours of certification are a requirement of the state’s Public Community College Act.
“JWCC’s Board is committed to excellence and accountability at all levels,” Elbe said. “Each one of our board members brings a wealth of experience and expertise, and we are extremely fortunate for their service to the College and our community in this capacity.”
The board also agreed to issue approximately $5 million in debt certificates, to be handled through First Bankers Trust. The funds will be used for a variety of capital improvements at the college’s various properties. The largest of these improvements will be the expansion of JWCC’s Workforce Development Center on Koch's Lane in Quincy. Just over $3 million of the debt certificate amount will be applied as matching funds for this expansion. The other half of the project cost is coming from a federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant through the U.S. Economic Development Administration. That grant was approved earlier this year.
In other business, the board:
• Authorized submission of a $25,000 grant application to the Illinois Board of Education for a Grant of Agriculture Science Teachers (GAST). This grant creates a pathway to a 4-year university degree by recruiting and supporting students interested in pursuing AG Education careers.
• Authorized submission of a grant application for up to $123,000 to the Illinois Green Economy Network for IGEN for multiple projects, including replacement of approximately 4,000 fluorescent light bulbs with LED bulbs, the purchase of an electric car for courtesy use and a charging station, and the installation of a solar powered soccer scoreboard.
• Accepted a $95,000 bid from Durbin Geothermal, Inc. for work to be done on a geothermal vault that services the college’s Student Activity Center.
• Approved the 2022-23 academic calendar to including holidays for Juneteenth and Election Day.