As the pandemic forced the closures of schools across the country, institutions for higher learning have been among those that were also closed and hit hard with the sudden changes.
Arizona community college responses to COVID-19 have shown how adaptable they can be and how important they are in the community. Community colleges have been the primary educating institutions of the thousands of nurses, EMTs, and other first responders of the coronavirus. Many of these community colleges have donated personal protective equipment, ventilators, key research, and more.
Researchers at Northern Arizona University are currently using the school’s pathogen and microbiome institute to grow coronavirus samples to test possible drug therapies to help patients with the virus. They began with drugs used to treat cancer. As they discover drugs that help they will report their findings.
Undergraduate students of the University of Arizona’s School of Family and Consumer Sciences embarked on a class project where they designed masks out of whatever material they had on hand and the outcome was astounding. They designed masks using long-sleeved shirts, reusable shopping bags, and cotton cloth with hair ties. Students of the theater department have been sewing masks to donate to those in need of them while engineering students have been making face masks and filters with their 3-D printers.
Eastern Arizona College and Central Arizona College have had to move classes to an online format and had many items of personal protection equipment that they chose to donate to hospitals in need. They gathered gloves, masks, gowns, and protective face shields to donate as the first line of defense for those that are working in the hospitals treating patients that have tested positive for COVID-19.
Pima Community College wanted to ease the stress of those on the frontlines of COVID-19, and upon hearing of the shortages of necessary PPE for healthcare workers Pima acted. They donated 400 N95 masks and 220 boxes of gloves. Students of the Fashion Design and Clothing Department have been making cloth masks for residents in the community.
As colleges move to remote learning, Phoenix College saw the need to PPE for those on the frontlines and they gathered as much as they could from labs that are currently closed for hands-on learning. They gathered PPE from their phlebotomy, nursing, medical assisting, and Medical lab tech programs. They are sharing gloves, gowns, face shields, and masks as well as two ventilators. The food pantry has also been open and providing very needed food for families in need during this time. They have also hosted a drive-thru food bank pick up during this time of great need.
Paradise Valley Community College is one of the many colleges that has a nursing program that had PPE on campus for students to use during their labs. Students gathered over 40 N05 masks, 300 face masks, 50 gowns, 2100 pairs of gloves, and 30 complete PPE kits to donate to those on the frontlines treating patients that have fallen ill with COVID-19.
Professors at Alvin Community College have made face masks with 3-D printers to give to healthcare workers that need personal protective equipment while treating patients. They have been very resourceful in acquiring resources to make the PPE for healthcare workers.
Estrella Mountain Community College has set aside funds to help students during the pandemic. As many students have lost jobs and require assistance, Estrella has resources to help with rent, food, tuition, and more.
As many community colleges have come together to gather and donate much needed personal protective equipment to help healthcare workers, others have donated financial resources to students, all have sacrificed for their communities. The community colleges’ responses to COVID-19 in Arizona have proven that people come together and step up during a time of need. Though there has been a lot of loss, struggle, anxiety, and stress during this time, humanity has shown that there is empathy, caring, and hope.
If you know of an Arizona college that has had amazing responses to COVID-19, please let us know so we can recognize them!