How to safely celebrate winter break

Written by Rhiana Bilderaya

While 2020 has been a very long year for all of us, it still isn’t over. With the holiday break beginning this week and many people planning to gather with their loved ones, it’s important to keep social distancing in mind. We still have months before the vaccine for COVID-19 is distributed to the general public, so in the meantime, we need to be vigilant about not spreading the virus to the immunocompromised and elderly. There are still ways to enjoy the holiday season safely! Here are a few.

You can try a meal train approach, where everyone picks an entree or side dish off a list then does a socially distanced swap. This way, you get to try a variety of foods, but don’t have to gather to do so. If you feel up to it, you can eat all the different dishes with your family and friends over Zoom.

If you plan on seeing family, quarantining for 10-14 days before and getting a negative test prior is likely the safest approach. It isn’t foolproof, as traveling incurs risk, but choosing to drive rather than fly may be a better option this year.

You can also use this holiday as an opportunity to get all the chores you didn’t have a chance to tackle over the semester out of the way. That way you start the new year with a cleaned out closet, which is never a bad thing. It can also be fun to plan for next year’s festivities, knowing that next year you will be able to safely celebrate in person. 

There has been a lot of good news over the last month, including FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. We should all be celebrating (just not at a party!). If you made it through this semester, or even if you took a break and plan to come back at a later point, you can be proud of your progress and determination this year. 2021 should be a year of positive changes and hopefully, safe holiday gatherings.

Registration Details

Written by Rhiana Bilderaya

If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to register for your next semester’s classes this week! 

Students with 30+ credits: Monday, November 9 starting at 9:00 a.m.

Students with 1-29 credits: Wednesday, November 11 starting at 9:00 a.m.

All Students: Friday, November 13 starting at 9:00 a.m.

Real-time remote classes are being offered at FRCC again this semester. Real-time remote classes have designated times each week that are held over Zoom. This may be the last semester this option is offered, so if there is a class you’d like to take but aren’t able to take it in person (due to commuting or another factor), Spring 2021 is a great time to take it. Real time remote classes are the same price as in person classes and less expensive than online classes.

In person classes are limited again, the exception being classes where it proves necessary to be in person, like welding or nursing. 

Online classes will be offered as usual. These courses do not have a designated time and professors may or may not post weekly lectures that you can watch at any point. Many professors elect not to post videos, which is something to keep in mind if self-guided learning is difficult.

With early registration, you will be more likely to get into classes you need or want to take. Additionally, you will know your projected costs sooner. If you need to speak with your adviser to figure out what classes you need to take, schedule an appointment. There is no deadline to register but to ensure your success you should prioritize it in November.

Voting On Campus

Written by Joe Fisk

Adams County voter center and polling will be located in the FRCC Westminster Rocky Mountain Room, C0770. Voting will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 30, Oct. 31 and Nov. 2. On Tuesday, Nov. 3, voting will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters should use entrance 2 and will exit the Rocky Mountain Room’s exterior doors. If voting in person, an ID is required, and if the ID shows an address, it must be from the state of Colorado. If unable to provide ID, you can still vote on a provisional ballot. If voters are looking for a site in Jefferson County, the closest voting site is at the Westminster City Park recreation center and is open only on Nov. 2 and 3.

What is Amendment B and what are its consequences?

Written by Rhiana Bilderaya

An amendment is on the ballot this year that could affect many Colorado community resources, including all  FRCC campuses. It’s called Amendment B, and it centers around whether or not to repeal the Gallagher Amendment. To be clear, a “yes” vote is a vote to repeal the amendment, while a “no” vote means keeping Gallagher in place.  

A “yes” vote to repeal the Gallagher Amendment, an outdated attempt to lower taxes, will go a long way to building better communities in Colorado. The reality is that a 10 percent home value increase on a $300,000 home amounts to an increase of $175 in property taxes yearly. That’s $14.58 per month, or about the cost of Netflix. This amount, while nominal to many homeowners, adds up significantly multiplied over many residences. That increase in revenue, now more than ever, is something our communities need. In the face of greatly reduced sales tax revenue, our local governments are struggling to provide the same services most of us use and enjoy.

According to Wikipedia, “The Gallagher Amendment was an amendment to the Colorado Constitution enacted in 1982 concerning property tax. It set forth the guidelines in the Colorado Constitution for determining the actual value of property and the valuation for assessment of such property.”

In plain English, the Gallagher Amendment took the tax responsibility off of residential homeowners and shifted it more to business owners in a 45-55 ratio. This helped ease the property tax burden as home prices rose rapidly in Colorado, especially since 2012. 

However, the result of this is that many community resources remain underfunded year after year, as mill levies fail to pass and property taxes are often cut instead of increasing. The community resources range from public schools to community colleges to libraries to fire stations to disability services, just to name a few. With more tax money, Front Range could provide more affordable tuition to its students. In Colorado, residents are required to vote on any tax changes, and often vote against increased taxation. This creates a cascading effect, where services remain annually underfunded and are limited in the resources they can provide. 

What does a “yes” vote to repeal the Gallagher Amendment mean? This year particularly, it means that any service funded by the government won’t continue to have its budget slashed (aside from what already occurred at the beginning of fiscal year 2020 in July). Repealing the Gallagher Amendment also won’t raise property taxes. It will freeze them in place. This means they won’t be cut, whereas if the Amendment stays in place, next year property taxes may decrease by 18 percent. 

A “no” vote means that the Amendment will stay in place with its 45-55 ratio of property tax to businesses. In many rural communities, this causes the local government budgets (that rely on tax revenue) to stagnate as property tax assessments fall from year to year. In places where home prices are rising rapidly, like the Front Range, the taxes don’t fall, but they also don’t increase. This also leads to stagnation as community resources can’t deliver to their full potential. 

Colorado Voter Resources for the 2020 Election

Written by Rhiana Bilderaya

Voting is important, but it can be hard to dive in without knowing much about the different amendments, candidates, and propositions on each ballot. If voting feels overwhelming, it can help to read about each candidate and amendment on the ballot. Here is a list of resources that break the 2020 Colorado ballot down into concise, readable information.

CPR News is one of the most comprehensive resources for this year’s ballot. Readers can click on each link to learn more about candidates, amendments, and propositions.

https://www.cpr.org/2020/10/12/vg-2020-colorado-voter-guide-november-election/

Colorado Sun has live updates with graphs on Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump approval and poll ratings.

Colorado Election 2020 Poll Tracker

Ballotpedia has a breakdown of what’s specific to the Colorado ballot this year and how the votes are split. They also explore campaign contributions.

https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_2020_ballot_measures

Ballotready will collect your address, then you can research the ballot by clicking on the “Research Ballot” link. Once you do this, there are links with information on every candidate for your state.

https://www.ballotready.org/

Administrators Respond to COVID-19

Written by Joe Fisk

Administrative positions at FRCC have had to work quickly in response to the pandemic, organizing events around health and safety protocol and tracking COVID-19 cases through FRCC COVID-19 Reporting

Stacey Hogan, FRCC’s associate vice president of Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness works with the pages, where any member of the FRCC community can report a case.

“Somebody can report for themselves,” said Hogan, “Or for a classmate, or if a faculty, or instructor had a student come to them and say they are symptomatic, been exposed, or have tested positive, they can submit it on behalf of a student. It can really be anybody about themselves or another member of the FRCC community. ”

Cathy Pellish, vice president of the FRCC Westminster campus and Dean of Instruction, Mathematics, English and Communication has seen and experienced administrative positions work fast in response to the pandemic.

“The biggest impact on employees in general, but more specifically those who are leading some of the administrative positions is the amount of work and then the pace at which we have to work.” said Pellish.

The increased workload and pace has been in response to legal, health and Department of Higher Education requirements. 

“We have to work so much more quickly because everything was changing rapidly in the spring,” said Pellish, “How do we respond to public health requirements? How do we respond to the Governor’s requirements? How do we respond to the Colorado Department of Higher Ed. Departments? So there is a lot of change there.” 

Many FRCC employees are now working remotely. Pellish has seen productivity despite the changes.

“I think what I’ve seen is incredible flexibility and creativity coming from employees,” said Pellish. “I have also seen and been very encouraged by how well everyone is able to work efficiently and productively from remote. Those are really good lessons in how we can continue business moving forward.”

Others in administrative positions, such as Darrick Silversmith, FRCC Westminster’s Student Involvement Coordinator have been challenged by other COVID-19 related changes. The decrease of on-campus traffic has changed Student Life’s process of hosting events.

“It’s been hard in the sense that our entire programming was affected,” said Silversmith. “Because generally, students were on campus, and we had face-to-face interaction with them. Now we’re in a situation where there’s not a lot of students on campus so we have to get the word out about our events either through virtual avenues like the Online Student Union or Instagram or text message.” 

Although some events have gone virtual due to the pandemic, Student Life has still been able to do some events on campus. The events have been outdoors and follow health and safety protocols with contact tracing.

“During Welcome Week, we actually got approval to do Welcome Waffles,” said Silversmith. “Which was a food truck event that lasted for two days. Then the following week, we did a grab-and-go situation where we purchased breakfast burritos and then brought them to campus and gave them out to students outside. A lot of our programming on campus has been outdoors with six-feet social distancing protocols and masks. We’ve also had to keep a list of who were serving for contact tracing. ” 

With rapid changes over the spring, summer and now fall semesters due to COVID-19, the FRCC community has been adapting and continuing education.

“Our faculty, staff and college leadership have done an incredible job with planning and having a scenario B, C, D, E and F,” said Hogan. “And really just doing their best to make this not only safe, but also academically productive and valuable time for our students. And I want to commend students, I have not been on campus a lot, but I’ve been talking with some folks that have. For the most part, we have folks following our guidelines related to wearing masks and social distancing.”

With registration for spring semester classes opening in November, FRCC will offer more on campus classes. However, the increase of on campus classes will be gradual, and real-time remote classes will still be offered.

“We’ll approach it a lot like fall, meaning that many of our classes will be what we call real-time remote,” said Pellish. “But we are going to increase the amount of classes held on campus. So it will be a real gradual increase in on-campus traffic. We will offer more in person face-to-face opportunities in the spring than we did the fall, but it won’t be fully back to normal. We just can’t commit to that right now.”


Information and updates on COVID-19, case reporting and guidelines can be found on the FRCC COVID-19 Updates Page.

Front Range Westminster faculty share their outlooks on the novel Coronavirus pandemic

Written by Rhiana Bilderaya

Virtually no sector, public or private, has been untouched by the novel COVID-19 pandemic. FRCC Westminster and higher education institutions throughout the country are no exception. Many closed in March for the remainder of spring semester when it became clear that the virus was spreading. Faculty at FRCC Westminster are adjusting to real time remote learning, one of the new learning options for students. 

“Real-time remote” is the term for classes that can be taught virtually. It means that students have an assigned class time, they log onto Zoom for their meeting time, and they submit their work online via Desire to Learn. Attendance and participation are expected. This option is less expensive than online learning and meant to mimic traditional in person classes.

Tamara Box, who teaches computer science classes at FRCC Westminster, said she normally teaches a mix of in person and online classes each semester. 

“D2L is an excellent platform for setting up remote learning and that makes the course content and infrastructure very easy,” Box said. “However, despite all of these advantages, I still prefer to have some face time with students every week. It is difficult to cater virtual sessions to meet everyone’s schedules.” 

Because her class is computer-based, she is teaching remotely this semester. The loss of in-person interaction has come with some challenges for her and her students. Despite this, she has some tips for success. 

“To be successful as a remote student or teacher, you have to put in the effort to connect,” Box said. “Sure, you can get through the whole class barely speaking with anyone, but you’ll have such a richer experience if you try to engage with students and the instructor. Go to the virtual office hours, IM the instructor with questions, reach out to your peers in discussions and help each other!”

Another computer science professor, Leslie Hurr, is enjoying teaching remotely, despite being worried about the loss of facetime turning students off of college classes. 

“I am nervous I’m going to lose students [who are] intimidated by the remote fashion,” Hurr said. “I try to tell my students, online and remote, that I’m available for them. I’ll do a Zoom session or stay after class.”

Overall, she has a very positive outlook about COVID-19 and its effects on both her personally and at FRCC Westminster. She talked at length about President Andy Dorsey’s weekly town halls and the extensive support for faculty.

“FRCC has advanced so much because of COVID,” Hurr said. “Andy Dorsey and so many people have joined together as a unified group to do as much as they possibly can to provide training and resources. Andy never used to have town halls, and now he has two a week.”

Leslie stated that she may even want to teach virtually long-term. Prior to COVID-19, she had a long commute. Now, she just walks downstairs to her office. Between the increased flexibility and support for staff, her outlook is bright.

 “We need to rise above and work as a team, all of us together,” Hurr said. “Andy Dorsey sees this as another opportunity for us to offer a different mode [of learning] for those that end up liking it. I do think that COVID has advanced everyone further technologically.”

The Effects of COVID-19 On Student Life

Written by Sarah McClure

Photo by Sarah McClure

Fall is a time for change, and a major shift has extended to students learning at FRCC Westminster this semester. As Colorado navigates the COVID-19 pandemic for the sixth month since mandatory quarantine orders were issued across the country in March, many students must adapt the ways in which they learn.

Ali West is a student in the fully-remote Web Development Certificate program at FRCC Westminster. She believes she has made the right choice by taking exclusively online courses.

“I chose to do online even when they were still offering some in-person classes, because this is a far better plan,” said West. “I know we’re probably going to have shutdowns again when it gets cold.”

According to BoulderCounty.org, there was a recent spike of 114 new reported cases of the coronavirus in Boulder County. West attributes this to in-person classes resuming at the Colorado University Boulder campus. 

“If I were to get [the] coronavirus, I would probably fail my classes,” said West. “It’s a huge risk. It makes me so glad I chose to do everything online, because it gives me a lot more control over my circumstances.”

Although she is glad to have the opportunity of learning remotely, she admitted it would be nice to have more interaction with the professors. One of her professors hosts a weekly Zoom meeting to help with challenges that may arise for students learning via this type of modality.

West mentioned that some benefits she has experienced with online learning are an enhanced sense of ownership of her education, and founding greater time management skills. 

“It takes initiative to do online learning,” said West.

Maile Wibbens is a student in the Clinical Emergency Medical Technician program at FRCC Westminster. She has a longer commute due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19.

“The Fort Collins EMT program filled up, so I travel down there now,” said Wibbens.

Her program, a hybrid modality, is what many educational institutions are implementing this semester as a resolution to concerns for safety. This means that, while her skills labs and tests are done in person, the majority of learning is done online via the Desire2Learn interface and Zoom lectures. 

Wibbens has been on campus for class twice now, having taken the other six classes online. When Wibbens and two other students studied for a test in the common area of the A Floor, each of them took care to sit at their own table. The FRCC Westminster staff ensured tables were a CDC-recommended 6 feet apart. 

Wibbens is forthcoming with a few pros and cons regarding the hybrid modality. She counts herself as a visual learner, so she prefers to see material on the screen during lectures. She mentions that kinesthetic learners might find online learning challenging, but [linguistic] learners may feel at ease in this type of environment. 

The most notable absence thus far is the social aspect of learning. 

“I think a big part of learning is being able to bounce ideas off of each other,” said Wibbens. “With our class, we’re very silent. I think that’s kind of hard, not being able to learn beyond just the lecture from a teacher.” 

One positive takeaway from this situation is that since she only has to make the long drive a few times throughout the semester, there is more time to walk the dogs, ride her horse, or cook a timely dinner. She adds that it’s good to sit down and be in the headspace for productivity when she logs in. She is able to do her homework immediately after her lecture, without having to drive home and become distracted by other things. 

“You do get a little bit more of your life back.” Wibbens says.

“Try not to procrastinate as much, because you don’t know what changes [are coming] in the world and in life,” said Wibbens. “Taking the chances that you can, while you can. Sometimes it won’t be as easy, or you’re in isolation in your house because of a pandemic.”

Although an influx of people willing to work on the front lines of the healthcare industry may be great news for denizens, Wibbens can’t help but worry about potential employment oversaturation after completing the program. She cites that about 140 people in Northern Colorado will be graduating at the same time.

Students at FRCC Westminster are unsure of what the future holds for education.

A Note from the editor

Written by Joe Fisk

After a short hiatus from publishing over the summer semester due to COVID-19-related complications, The Front Page student newspaper is returning for the fall semester! The paper will continue its dedication to delivering relevant news to Front Range Community College. The Front Page intends to continue bringing readers campus news, features, interests as well as COVID-19 updates and how they affect FRCC. The Front Page staff looks forward to bringing readers new content and thanks you for your patience!

Front Page Summer Operations Update

Dear readers of the Front Page Student Newspaper,

Due to present circumstances involving COVID-19, the newspaper will not be publishing articles over the summer. We will, however, return for the Fall 2020 semester. Until then, we thank you for your patience and understanding.

Please stay safe and keep kindness in your hearts.

Sincerely,

Front Page Student Newspaper