By Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado
This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.
As a full-time student at New York University this past spring, Sejal Porter saw firsthand just how devastating the coronavirus can be.
So she understands why instructors at Arapahoe Community College, where she temporarily enrolled this summer, had to revamp the hands-on training program for her emergency medical technician classes.
The summer program had its challenges. With social-distancing orders in place, students couldn’t practice such tasks as checking blood pressure with real people.
“With medicine, it is so incredibly difficult to learn everything that we needed on mannequins and without being able to, for instance, take a pulse on somebody,” she said.
But she’s hoping the summer’s emphasis on safety becomes the norm when the full student body returns in the fall, and that students take the risks seriously.
“It’s all interconnected. It takes one person to go to a frat party to have an impact on your life,” said Porter, 19, who is taking time off from NYU to work on an ambulance. “I just want to see a general respect among peers, which is not something a school can deliver, but something that we as a society have to deliver.”
Colleges and universities in Colorado and across the country are hoping that the protocols developed and practiced over the summer can help them bring students back to campus without major outbreaks of the coronavirus. At stake are not only the health and educational prospects of students — some of whom are likely to drop out if their programs are delayed or moved online — but also the financial health of institutions like Arapahoe that depend on tuition dollars.
The challenges are numerous, including getting students and faculty to consistently follow rules about wearing masks and keeping distance from one another on and off campus.