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Classes Continue Online for Students Attending College of Menominee Nation

 

A message from CMN Interim President Christopher Caldwell

 

Posoh mawaw new weyak.

 

I am writing this in hope that you who are part of our tribal communities and neighbors far and wide are safe and weathering the COVID-19 crisis with patience and strength. I also want to assure you that our College of Menominee Nation is operational and functional, and continuing to serve its students in all ways possible.

 

Over the past month, all who work at the College have been rallying to institute ways for our students to continue making progress in their courses while doing all possible to protect their health. CMN leadership is continually monitoring and adjusting operations according to what we hear from tribal, federal, and state leaders, and medical authorities.

 

This effort began with increased sanitation on our campuses and advised social distance among workers; it moved quickly to requiring on March 16 that all student instruction to be online. That directive now extends until the end of spring semester. We are fortunate that several years ago the College invested in distance and inter-active classroom technology. Because CMN faculty members have considerable experience using distance-learning modes for instruction and communicating with students online, we have had less of a ramp-up curve than some institutions. Almost all CMN students are thoroughly familiar with online lectures, research, group projects, tests and feedback.

 

We have been working to assure that CMN students who live in areas without adequate internet and/or lack computer hardware at home are offered PCs from the College, provided hot spots where they can safely get intranet service, or accommodated in other ways. The commitment is that no student who wishes to continue the semester’s work is left behind. Similarly, students in classes that require hands-on experience are being given extensions to complete their work when the crisis abates.

 

For students studying here in Keshena and Green Bay/Oneida, financial aid, student scholarship awards, internship employment, grant stipends and other sources of support are continually being reviewed to be sure funds are moving to those who need them. Our national public policy group, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, has been advocating on behalf of CMN and other tribal colleges and universities to assure that student financial aid and regulations of the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies do not penalize students for these unexpected interruptions in their education.

 

Except for a few key employees, all who are employed at the College are handling their regular duties online or on reassignment at home as directed by their supervisors. I am communicating with both our workers and students with email and video updates and with faculty and staff via video conferencing that lets us interactively talk with each other. This is not ideal, but we are very quickly learning how to work together effectively in this new reality. Some of these sessions are available on the College’s website and Facebook, if you are interested.

 

My message to our communities is that your College may be sheltering in place, but it is not shuttered in any way. Essential services to students continue. We are making plans for summer and fall course offerings in expectation and hope that the COVID-19 crisis is past. Applications are being accepted online. Financial aid requests are being processed. The Wisconsin Job Center and Menominee Vocational Rehabilitation are accessible by phone for unemployment application assistance and individual support programs, respectively.

 

I admire the way CMN students and employees have adjusted to the changing situation and rallied to continue the spring semester’s work and prepare for the future. I am proud of the cooperation and mutual support shown in a time when all are concerned about their health and that of family members.

 

Now are times for reflection on our next steps in life. When our communities are once more open and ready to re-engage, I invite you to call upon the College of Menominee Nation for further education, a start on a new career path, technical training, skill assessments, or other support. In the meantime, we are making ourselves as available as possible at CMN via email and website to offer information and advising.

 

Christopher Caldwell
Interim President, College of Menominee Nation, Keshena and Green Bay