A-B Tech President John D. Gossett announced today that the college will reinstate its mask requirement at all A-B Tech locations for the Fall Semester, following the lead of federal, state and local guidance. A-B Tech still plans to continue in-person classes this fall, but will enforce masking, enhanced cleaning, and distancing measures, as well as vaccine incentives, to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
“We continue to put the safety of our students, employees and the community first by following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the state of North Carolina, and local governments,” Gossett said. “When we lifted the mask mandate in June, there was a very low incidence of COVID. We’re reinstating it now because of the alarming increase of the Delta variant in recent weeks.”
Gossett also announced that A-B Tech’s vaccine incentive program will be expanded to cover employees. A student vaccine incentive program was announced last week. Fully vaccinated students are eligible to receive $150 gift cards to the college bookstore through October 15. Fully vaccinated employees will receive $300 incentive payments in the college’s payroll. The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” as two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
A-B Tech’s fall COVID-19 protocols take effect on Monday, August 16. The mask mandate applies to all students, employees, and visitors in A-B Tech facilities regardless of vaccination status. Masks must be worn indoors in all classrooms and common areas and in outdoor group settings where six feet of distance cannot be maintained.
The college is not mandating vaccinations of students or employees, but is encouraging them through the incentive program, Gossett said. “Public health experts have consistently told us that vaccinations are the best way to stop the spread of COVID and get back to normal operations more quickly,” he said.
Gossett announced Fall Semester COVID protocols in a video message to employees and students.
“We know our students are ready to return to campus and in-person instruction,” he said. “The conservative, cautious approach we took last year paid off with very low rates of COVID among our employees and students. This year, we have vaccinations and more knowledge about how COVID is spread than we did last fall. And we’re hopeful that most people are now vaccinated and understand the safety measures.”
Citing a positive outcome of the pandemic, Gossett said A-B Tech now offers more online and hybrid options for people who may want to continue online learning and, in a worst-case scenario, is able to teach most classes online if necessary. The college converted more than 95 percent of its academic classes to online instruction last year and trained all faculty in best practices for online instruction.
Registration is now open for A-B Tech’s fall semester, which begins August 23. Continuing education, workforce training, and Small Business Center classes also begin in August. For more information, visit abtech.edu/welcome-back or call 828.398.7900.