Restarting in-person classes and clinics

How the College moved online in 15 days

Planning to Go Live with In-Person Classes and the Clinics

Reopening Preparation

In preparation for reopening the in-person courses and clinic operations, the College conducted a series of discussions and evaluations of the physical plant and the continued need for physical distancing at both the Wisconsin and Illinois campuses. One of the steps is to revise the current COVID-19 plan to protect the students, faculty, administration, and patients upon reopening. In addition to the CCAOM COVID-19 preparation recommendations, the College will provide additional measures to safeguard the MCOM community.

These measures include:

  • The College will provide all personnel and students with N95 masks and disposable gloves.
  • All patients will be required to wear masks during their clinic visits and treatments. A mask sterilization station will be available for use at both campuses for all interns, students, and personnel.
  • Physical distancing will be mandated in classrooms (six feet apart in all directions / one student per table). The classrooms and common areas are currently being re-configured to accommodate physical distancing.
  • Sinks for hand washing are installed in all classrooms with antibacterial soap and disposable towels at the Wisconsin campus.
  • Additional sinks are installed at the Illinois campus, and extra hand sanitizing stations will be added to the Illinois campus.
  • The College will place multiple bottles of surface disinfectant (Super-Sans solution tested to kill Covid-19 on contact) in each occupied classroom and clinic room.
  • The College has installed air sterilizers on all furnaces providing continuous sterilization at the Wisconsin campus.
  • Portable air sterilizers are present in all classrooms and clinic rooms at the Illinois campus.
  • The College has trained the janitorial staff on Covid-19 cleaning procedures.
  • Airport-style infrared cameras will be installed at all entrances to measure remotely the temperature of individuals entering the buildings.
  • The College obtained the ingredients to use the FDA guidelines to formulate 12 gallons of hand sanitizer for all personnel, students, and patients.
  • The clinics contain sufficient acupuncture needles, herbs, gloves, patient drapes, and isopropyl alcohol.
  • Students and staff will use the daily and hourly checklists to assure proper Clean Needle Technique (CNT), proper disinfection, and infectious disease prevention. These procedures are contained in the new clinic operations manual.
  • All clinicians and interns must change out of street clothing and wear appropriate clinic attire during clinic shifts. After the shift is over, the clinicians change back into street clothes and bag the clinic clothing for cleaning before leaving the clinic.
  • During each clinic shift, one supervisor will be responsible for ensuring all cleaning and disinfection techniques are accomplished during the required intervals.
  • All personnel and students will be required to participate in Covid-19 prevention training.

Reopening Timeline

MCOM’s spring quarter ends on June 20, 2020. The College plans to continue synchronous online distance education during the summer quarter beginning on June 27, 2020, and wait for guidance from the Governors of Wisconsin and Illinois. The College will be ready to resume in-person education as soon as the emergency orders are lifted.

Moving the College Online in 15 Days

Background

In the spring of 2014, the College administration recognized that the assessment system needed a complete overhaul. Each quarter the main campus office would order 5 or 6 cases of paper in preparation for quizzes, midterms, and final examinations. Assessments were printed using multiple copy machines and afterward shredded for recycling. Also, determining the validation of tests, and question validity was a manual job.

In a discussion between the College’s president and his daughter, he found that her law school had converted to paperless examinations using a platform named Examsoft. As a result of these discussions and meetings with the campus directors, faculty, and academic directors, the College rolled out the use of Examsoft in the summer of 2014.

The online testing platform the College uses is at https://examsoft.com/. It is expensive, but the College has used it successfully for six years for all formative and summative assessments. The reports for test question validity are outstanding. The use of the individual longitudinal studies for tutoring has been a game-changer in helping students know their weakness and has enabled positive tutoring experiences.

Two Significant Developments

  1. The College president, William Dunbar, Ph.D., enrolled in a Harvard University graduate program for Learning Design and Technology. Dr. Dunbar began to share his experience in Harvard’s graduate distance education program with the College leadership. As a result, MCOM adopted the Canvas LMS, https://canvas.instructure.com/. The College adopted online support using canvas for many in-person courses. Faculty and administrators trained in all of the functionality of the online platform without actually teaching online courses.
  2. The College administration researched various online meeting platforms, including On24, Zoom, and Gotomeeting. Dr. Dunbar experienced graduate-level training using Zoom when Harvard adopted the use for graduate distance education; MCOM adopted Zoom for training faculty even before approval for distance education began. 

The Beginning of Synchronous Online Distance Education

In the spring of 2017, MCOM was approved for limited use of online education to offer evening courses during the winter, so the students didn’t have to drive in in-climate weather. From the spring of 2017 until March 2020, MCOM successfully offered 27 synchronous online distance education courses. Dr. Julie Mayrose, EdD, the Colleges Director of Assessment, designed longitudinal studies of student performance and determined whether the same objectives and outcomes were valid for in-person courses compared to synchronous online courses. The results showed that both groups were meeting the same objectives and outcomes.

In 2018, MCOM began to use discussion boards and pre-class live discussions to create a greater sense of community for the online students. In 2019, the College added the software platform www.yellowdig.com as an augmentation to the discussion boards. This platform has automated tracking of metrics associated with discussion board participation. MCOM faculty recognized the importance of creating a sense of community among online learners.

The Coronavirus Emergency

On January 21, 2020, Dr. Dunbar received a call from a faculty member who was communicating with colleagues in Wuhan using the Chinese social media site, WeChat. The phone call was disturbing and contained a dire warning of the Covid-19 virus. A meeting of College leadership was held on Friday, January 24, to review the initial SARS pandemic plan and update it with public information from the Center for Disease Control, keeping in mind the content of the phone call warning of the coming pandemic. Dr. Dunbar created the College’s official Corona site at www.coronavirusplan.net. The first posting at this site at the beginning of February outlined MCOM’s COVID-19 plan.

Using the Constant Contact platform, an email was sent to all personnel and students to remain at home and self isolate if they experienced any flu-like symptoms for 14 days.

Dr. Dunbar, working with the College’s campus directors and board members, determined that additional supplies would likely be needed in the event of shortages and orders were placed in February for acupuncture needles, N95 masks, surgical loop masks, hand sanitizer, isopropyl alcohol, antiseptic surface cleaner, antiseptic soap, and disposable gloves to last at least until January of 2021. Also, the College’s herbal instructors reviewed the 2002 SARS herbal formulas, and herbs were ordered for the clinics.

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