Gillette College to Move Online, COVID-19 Absent of Student Body

Gillette College announced Wednesday that the college will move to online instruction Nov. 30, despite no new cases of COVID-19 among their student body.

Right now the college intends the online courses to be a temporary measure that will end before students return for the spring semester in January following winter break.

“While the situation is fluid and changing rapidly, these measures are intended to limit students and employees traveling and then returning to campus as much as possible,” District President Dr. Walt Tribley said in a statement.

Despite students wanting to remain on campus, finishing out the semester after the Thanksgiving break online will help the Northern Wyoming Community College District’s (NWCCD) efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 within their respective communities, Tribley concluded.

Students with labs, such as those enrolled in the nursing or diesel technology programs, will be permitted to return to campus to finish out those labs.

The announcement follows a positive report to the advisory board Nov. 18 by Jennifer Crouse, NWCCD Vice President of Student Affairs, who reported that the district’s COVID-19 situation has improved considerably.

Out of 2,300 students within the district, NWCCD has seen a total of 27 positive cases of COVID-19 among their student body, with most of the cases reported at Sheridan College. Only 8 cases have been reported so far at Gillette College and no cases have been reported at the Sheridan College Campus in Johnson County, Crouse informed the board.

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There have been no outbreaks of COVID-19 from either college’s student residence halls, Crouse said.

A total of four students at Sheridan College remain in active quarantine with none at Gillette College. District wide, nine staff members are actively quarantined, though many of them will be returning to work before too long, Crouse said.

She added that none of the active cases have appeared to originate from within the campuses, but have instead come from external sources.

“In light of everything, we have really good numbers and are doing well,” Crouse said, attributing a good portion of the district’s success to the students, who have taken it upon themselves to encourage each other to wear facemasks and to observe social distancing.

“This is what’s helped us to keep our numbers so low,” Crouse concluded.