Report: FM returning to ‘normal’

PHOTOGRAPHER:
Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Gregory Truckenmiller speaks about COVID’s impact on campus at a meeting of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors’ Human Services Committee Tuesday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Gregory Truckenmiller on Tuesday reviewed COVID-19’s impact on campus, including a new student vaccination mandate for the 2021-22 academic year.

Truckenmiller addressed the Fulton County Board of Supervisors’ Human Services Committee on the subject of COVID. He said the campus is getting back to normal.

The SUNY Board of Trustees passed a resolution June 23 to implement a COVID-19 mandate for students on campus, with limited medical and religious exemptions. He said he is still trying to learn more information.

When asked about whether a possible state policy involving for COVID vaccinations for in-person learning this fall might hamper FMCC enrollment, he said he wasn’t sure.

“I’m concerned about the impact that’s going to have,” Truckenmiller stated.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said it seems adult learners on campus might be “more resistant” to COVID vaccination than high school graduates coming to FMCC in the fall.

The college president said a policy isn’t out yet on vaccinating students who already have had COVID and may have some immunity.

He added, “We don’t have our own specific policies on vaccines…

Truckenmiller touched on COVID issues impacting the campus, taking the committee back to the beginning of the pandemic.

“Obviously back in March 2020, we had to pivot to remote instruction and remote operations,” he said. He said FMCC ended up being fully remote for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.

Eventually, he said staff came back and labs were able to be held in fall 2020. Through the last academic year, staff were kept mostly remote.

“We started bringing people back on an every day basis,” Truckenmiller said.

Now with this summer and many already being vaccinated, he said COVID restrictions have started to ease during daily life on campus.

“We’re essentially back to normal instruction,” he said.

Meanwhile, Truckenmiller noted how FMCC during the pandemic this year has worked with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and county Public Health Department. He said resident halls had to be vacated, and at least two students had to be quarantined for a limited time.

“Probably the biggest thing we did was to serve as a Point of Distribution (POD) for vaccines,” Truckenmiller said.

He said staff from the county Public Health Department vaccinated area residents on Thursdays in half the FMCC gym.

“The POD at the college was just magnificent,” said committee Chairman Charles Potter. “A job well done.”

Truckenmiller said the college also utilized the situations to provide clinical instruction for the FMCC nursing students.

From January to May, Truckenmiller said 6,310 total doses were administered at FMCC. The county Office for Aging and Kinney Drug Stores also did another 1,007 doses.

Currently, the college president said FMCC is discussing with the health department to offer c= vaccinations to FMCC students, which may be required to start the fall semester.

FMCC has done weekly surveillance testing using saliva swabs. Testing shifted June 1 to only unvaccinated individuals, but testing will continue this fall. There have been 6,322 tests to date, with 32 positive cases since March 2020.

Truckenmiller said FMCC will approach the fall semester head on.

“Our hope is we’ll be able to return to as much normalcy as possible,” he said.

He said the college still doesn’t have much information on the state directive that students on campus receive vaccines. He said FMCC has orientation events in July and August, and hopes to partner with the county Public Health Department to provide vaccines.

Truckenmiller noted that last year, the college had no outside groups come on campus. But he said that is starting to change. He said athletics is also allowed.

“Hopefully, it will be business as usual,” he said.

He said four new food vendors are being interviewed through the request for proposal process.

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