Update From President, Jason S. Wood, Ph.D. – November 13, 2021


Pure Southwest Tech Pride!  Earlier this week we hosted the Wisconsin Technical College System Board of Directors and guests for their quarterly meeting.  We were afforded an hour which isn’t nearly long enough to brag about our college.  If you are working on a project at your computer and have a chance to listen or view (link and password in email) the presentation (subtitled version coming soon), it is well worth the time.  Faculty, staff, students, and friends of the College speak about key projects that are improving lives.

  1. COVID
    1. Federal Vaccine Mandate:  You may have heard the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released an Emergency Temporary Standard that requires covered employers with 100 or more employees to require their employees either be fully vaccinated or to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear face masks within certain timeframes.  Here is how this relates to our safety protocols and if the College will be subject to those requirements:
      1. Southwest Tech safety standards are enforced by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (WI DSPS), not OSHA.
      2. WI DSPS adopted the 2010 OSHA standards for public employees.
      3. Under the WI DSPS standard, Federal Emergency Orders are not included in the language for adoption, therefore are not enforceable or applicable.
      4. In regards to clinicals in healthcare setting, the Federal Temporary Standard excludes “settings where employees provide healthcare services or healthcare support services subject to OSHA’s June 2021 Healthcare ETS.”
    2. We are working with students who are impacted by the vaccine requirement of their healthcare clinical sites.  We are not currently considering a college-wide vaccine mandate while also acknowledging there are increasing trends towards regulatory agencies implementing vaccine requirements.  We urge you to consult with your primary care physician about your personal health care choices while recognizing the vaccines have been safe and effective for the vast majority of people.
    3. My apologies.  A few students expressed concerns about promotional pictures of people, including me, who appeared to not be following our COVID protocol.  During the review of the situation we learned the photographer had prior documented approval for a brief photo op which is similar to other situations.  We will implement a suggestion from a student and put an asterisk by publicly posted photos that indicate protocol were followed to help avoid confusion.  Because it was a potential violation and I am in a position of authority, it is important to me that you know I did apologize to the individuals who were concerned, sought to learn more about the situation, took steps to correct the issue, and notified my Board Chair who will present it to the full Board for consideration of further action.  For most situations a first time lapse in wearing a facemask is a friendly reminder.  Hopefully we can continue to help each other with integrity and empathy.
    4. If you do have a need to consider an alternative arrangement to COVID protocol, please contact Dan Imhoff or Krista Weber and they can help you.  If there are other rules, regulations, procedures, or policies you think should be reconsidered, please communicate with your supervisor or Human Resources.  We can and should be seeking ways to continuously improve.
  2. Inclement Weather
    1. With a few snow flurries this weekend, it is timely to remind people of our snow day practices.  When we are closed for bad weather, you will be notified as early as possible (usually prior to 6 am) via our emergency alert system – text message, emails, website, media outlets, etc.  We expect to pivot to remote work where possible when campus facilities are inaccessible.  If you are unable to work remotely, you can use MTO (paid leave) to account for the time.  Please note positions like our custodial crew cannot work remotely and do not need to take MTO when campus is closed.  Please ask your supervisor or HR if you have questions about your personal situation.
    2. Sample Emergency Alert Language: “Southwest Tech campus facilities will be CLOSED today (insert date) due to weather – this closure includes the Child Care Center, Outreach Sites, and all evening classes. All employees should utilize their remote work plan, and students should check their email for more information from instructors.”
  3. Kudos to…
    1. Betsy Tollefson for mentoring and coaching Dennis Cooley on WIDS (our curriculum management system).  I am appreciate of Betsy’s enthusiasm for helping others with the tools they need to be successful instructors.  Exemplary Shout Out attached!
    2. Stephanie Brown for filling in for Natalie Long by leading the Charger Pantry!  Chantel Hampton submitted the attached Shout Out for Stephanie who is doing an excellent job making sure students have access to basic essentials.  Well done!
    3. Josh Krohn!  Again, Dennis Cooley is grateful for Josh’s expertise and willingness to help.  Thank you, Josh, for your efforts to make our online and virtual learning platforms the best possible!

Please remember to attend the College Forum on Tuesday, November 16 at either 7:30, 11:30, or 4:00.  You may attend in the auditorium or via zoom and the appointment should be on the calendar.  I look forward to hearing from the faculty, staff, and students who are leading the various efforts around the college.

In closing, I hope you are doing well.  If there is something I can do to help, please let me know.



P.S. “Our greatest ability as humans is not to change the world; but to change ourselves.” Mahatma Gandhi

Posted in COVID-19, Update