COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) FAQs

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For the BBCC Campus Community

5-18-2020 President's Message: Who Decides When BBCC Opens Campus?

Greetings Big Bend students and colleagues,

Today will see the return to campus of four workforce education programs, including Automotive Technology, Aviation Maintenance Technology, Industrial Systems, and Welding. To achieve this desired outcome, these departments had to secure approval from a variety of state and federal agencies. All had to meet requirements from the governor’s office, Labor & Industries, and the Washington Workforce Education Coordinating Board. In addition, Aviation Maintenance Technology had to comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules.

Meanwhile, Big Bend’s Nursing and Medical Assisting programs had met the requirements of these groups and their respective specialized accreditation groups. Both have been operating in clinical settings for a few weeks. Currently, we are seeking approval to return our Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and Aviation Flight programs to face-to-face instruction by May 26.

Perhaps you may have wondered, “So who decides when classes can return to campus?” The answer is a resounding “it depends!” Returning classes to campus and re-opening on-campus services is very situational, requires different decision-making processes, and is subject to different rules.

Big Bend’s decision-making process involves local college officials, including members of Cabinet, Luis Alvarez, and Kyle Foreman, who serve on our Emergency Management Team. This team developed a COVID-19 Exposure Control, Mitigation, and Recovery Plan, which Kyle Foreman shared last Friday. If you missed his message, you can review the plan at this link. I approved the team’s recommended plan, which ensures that Big Bend complies with restrictions/regulations/recommendations from the governor’s office, Centers for Disease Control, and other state and federal agencies. The plan, however, primarily governs how we will protect the health and safety of students and employees when programs return to campus. It does not determine which programs will return and when.

Determining which programs/classes return to campus involves a review of the nature of the programs/classes. Classes that can function online or remotely will do so until we receive approval from the governor to return them to campus. The governor’s office designates which of our programs are aligned with essential jobs his office has identified in the COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Workers.

Classes and programs, then, return to campus according to when the governor’s office stipulates. For now, classes and programs designated as supporting essential jobs, like the programs mentioned in the first paragraph above, have priority. They cannot serve students’ needs or meet licensing requirements without returning to shops, labs, clinics, etc. These programs have been frontloading their theory portions, now is the time for students to return to campus for hands-on activities.

Classes not designated as directly supporting essential jobs, and which can operate remotely, will continue remote delivery until the governor’s office informs us otherwise.

When we open campus to serve students and the public also depends on directives from the governor’s office. For now, supervisors permit employees to return to campus temporarily only when they have tasks they cannot complete remotely.

When campus re-opens completely, students and employees must determine if they feel safe enough to return. Given the uncertainty of COVID-19, individuals may have concerns about their safety because of underlying health problems, age, and other factors that may increase vulnerability. Thus, some students may elect to stay with online classes. Some employees may continue to work remotely with the approval of their supervisor.

We will not penalize students or employees for choosing to continue a remote relationship; however, there may be consequences to contemplate. For example, students choosing not to return for hands-on instruction in a workforce program can expect a delay in their completion of the required curriculum. Similarly, employees whose jobs require that they work on site and choose not to return have a number of options to consider. Individuals need to consider their unique circumstances. Students should consult their instructor(s), and employees should speak with their supervisor.

I hope this message helps you understand the dynamics of decision making related to COVID-19 restrictions. If you need more information, check with your instructor or supervisor.

Best wishes for continued health and success,

Terry Leas, President

4-28-2020 President's Message on Fall Quarter Classes Remaining Online

Big Bend Students,

We have all heard the saying, “It’s hard to hit a moving target.”

We find ourselves in an awkward reality as a college, state, and country as we try to return to some semblance of normalcy during the COVID-19 pandemic, while simultaneously doing our part to help flatten the curve and protect the health and safety of our families and friends.

Our situation is like being on a road trip with small children in the backseat asking repeatedly, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Except on this road trip, there is no GPS to guide us with turn-by-turn directions and a definite time of arrival. All we can do is hope for the best while planning for the future based on our current information.

We are awaiting guidance from Governor Inslee’s office about the safe return of college classes and campus life at Big Bend with the understanding that a restart will be slow and methodical. With that information and in order to minimize possible disruptions, we have decided to continue our remote learning model into the fall quarter with all possible instruction continuing online.

College officials hope to be able to offer a limited number of in-person labs, clinicals, and workforce education training utilizing strict social distancing and cleaning policies, but we will do so only with guidance from the state.

If there is a major change in our situation, fall quarter class models could shift. Again, with the most current information available to guide us, we are planning to continue the vast majority of classes online this fall.

This situation is still new territory for all of us. We would love to have a solid plan with a definite outline of what happens next — unfortunately, that is just not our current reality. We ask for your patience and continued motivation to be successful as we try to be flexible and accommodating while providing the safest and most productive environment possible for our students.

Sincere regards,

President Leas

4-23-2020 President's message on Graduation

Greetings Big Bend Community & Students,

Congratulations students and graduates for your perseverance and efforts to move forward academically through a historic time in our state and country.

I write to inform you and our campus community about how we will handle commencement this year amid the uncertainty imposed on all of us by the COVID-19 crisis. We are excited to announce that our 2020 graduates, who include college and BEdA (high school) graduates, will be the first Big Bend graduates to experience a virtual commencement!

Given the constantly changing landscape of social-distancing restrictions, we are conducting the 2020 Commencement ceremony virtually. Commencement will still take place on June 12, but we will not conduct it in person. Instead, we have contracted with a company, MarchingOrder, to provide a virtual commencement ceremony (graduates will receive more detailed and updated information soon).

The ceremony will use pre-recorded videos of speakers and a unique slide created with a photo and message submitted by each graduate.

Big Bend will provide each graduate with a diploma cover, cap and tassel, honor cord (if earned), and commencement program at no charge. We will pay to ship these items only to graduates who reside outside of Grant and Adams counties. For those living in Grant and Adams counties, we will schedule delivery sites in communities throughout Grant and Adams counties or provide curbside pick-up at the college.

Graduates who desire a gown, announcements/invitations, extra tassels, or other graduation mementos may purchase them from the Big Bend Community College Bookstore.

Big Bend and Big Bend ASB will provide a celebration bag, which includes the diploma cover and a gift, to each graduate. Graduates in Grant and Adams counties can obtain their celebration bags the week after commencement via curbside pick-up at the college. We will mail at no cost celebration bags to those graduates who want one and live outside of Grant and Adams counties.

Our 2020 Commencement will be historic because of these changes, and I hope you find them an enhancement compared with commencements done in the old style. Unfortunately, we cannot depend on the lifting of social-distancing restrictions to allow a traditional commencement ceremony to take place. We do not want to plan for a traditional ceremony only to learn at the last minute that we cannot hold it, which would be disruptive and disappointing to all of us.

Please accept my best wishes to you and your families for good health and much success,

President Leas

For a list of all academic classes and start dates, please click here! Information on Workforce Education classes will be available soon.

4-19-2020: Unemployment Insurance Information from the WA ESD

Good afternoon,

I just wanted to share if you aren’t already aware that the Employment Security Department administers the Unemployment Insurance program.  While we can’t help you file your unemployment claim, here are key tips for getting constituents to the right place to file successfully and all of it can be found on ESD’s website. Please share this through your social media channels and email listservs.

The best bet is to go to and have folks take these steps:

  1. Stay up to date. If you haven’t already, please sign up for ESD’s COVID-19 action alerts. You can do so on the agency’s COVID page (
  2. Check your eligibility. Learn more about your eligibility and when to apply for benefits using the new eligibility checker. We are encouraging those eligible for regular unemployment to apply now, and newly eligible to wait until after April 18.
  3. Unemployment is expanding. The federal CARES Act allows self-employed people, part-time workers, and others affected by COVID-19 to use unemployment benefits. Our website has recently been updated with details about applying.
  4. Get ready to apply. Download the application checklist.
  5. Set up your account. Watch the tutorial video to set up your account correctly. It is nine minutes long but will likely save a lot of time.

ESD also has a lot of employee and employer FAQ’s that are being revised constantly to provide helpful information.  It’s a great place to find what you are looking for.

Thank you, and I hope you have a great rest of your Sunday.


Central Washington Regional Representative| Office of Governor Jay Inslee

4-3-2020 President's message: Governor's Stay-home extension

Good afternoon Big Bend colleagues, students, and trustees:

Yesterday, Governor Inslee extended his “Stay-Home, Stay-Healthy” directive through May 4 to reduce further the spread of COVID-19. Big Bend will continue to offer instruction, services to students, and support college operations using alternate schedules, work locations, and modalities.

Following the governor’s directive, we will maintain our current approach to operations until further notice:

  • All instruction for spring quarter will continue online.
  • Students, faculty, and staff members should continue social distancing practices and other preventive measures.
  • Big Bend’s housing operations will continue to provide limited service. Dining services remain closed through May 4.
  • All employees who are able to telework must do so.
  • Campus buildings remain closed to the public. A few operations (bookstore, food pantry, & library) will assist students via curbside service. All others will use telephone, email, mail, and video modalities.

We continue to assess how Governor Inslee’s directive affects our college’s operations through the remainder of the academic year. We will follow up with any additional information or instructions as we learn more. Meanwhile, continue to function as you have done since the governor issued his original order.

My primary goal is to keep our students and employees and their families healthy. Secondarily, we want to help our students achieve their educational and career goals during this challenging time. With your patience, understanding, and courage, we will overcome adversity and uncertainty and achieve these goals.

Best wishes,

Terrence Leas, Ph.D.


3-29-2020 President's message: Big Bend is Committed to You

Greetings Big Bend Students,

Welcome back! Some classes begin March 30; others begin April 6. If you have questions about when your spring classes begin, please visit this link.

I trust this message finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. This extraordinary threat brings new challenges that have forced us all to function outside of our daily routines. Governor Inslee’s “stay-healthy, stay-safe” order is understandably restricting, but it does allow Big Bend to continue to offer instruction and student support services by remote means. We can continue to work on your behalf, so you may achieve your educational and career goals.

I know that many of you have been scrambling to adapt to this new way of learning and that is why I wanted to take a moment to say, “Thank you.”

Thank you for trusting Big Bend to continue to educate you. Thank you for your willingness to overcome these new barriers to learning with a positive attitude. Lastly, thank you for your patience and grace as our faculty and staff members prepare to deliver spring course content in an alternative but exciting new way.

We are all learning together as we enter the spring quarter. Some of you are familiar with online platforms and resources, and you may be very comfortable in this setting; others may struggle with our different ways of delivering instruction. Don’t worry, there are many resources available to you on the library website and through Canvas. Simply reach out to your instructors, advisors, and the library for help and additional information.

The Big Bend campus community admires how you have accepted your new circumstances and your motivation to adapt to and overcome adversity. I can promise you that you will not be alone in this endeavor and that our faculty and staff members are more committed than ever to support you and make sure that you receive the resources that you need to be successful.

The success of Big Bend lies in the success of each one of you. Thank you for making us proud!

3-24-20 President's message: stay-safe, stay-healthy

Good afternoon Big Bend colleagues, students, and trustees:

On Monday evening, Governor Jay Inslee shared that more than 2,000 people in Washington State have been diagnosed with COVID-19 – many more are likely to be infected. Regrettably, more infections mean more fatalities.

As a result, Gov. Inslee issued a stay-home, stay-healthy order for at least the next two weeks designed to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Why this controversial and disruptive order is necessary is illustrated in this visual aid. We can do our part to defeat this invisible enemy by complying with the governor’s order.

What does this order mean for BBCC students?
The only students allowed on campus are those living in the residence halls and those who are picking up food assistance by appointment through the Viking Food Pantry. If you need food assistance, please contact the Viking Food Pantry at

All classes for the spring quarter will be completely online through April 6. At that time, unless the governor issues a new order, we will revert to our restricted schedule of limited face-to-face instruction for labs and workforce education programs while practicing responsible social distancing for the duration of the spring quarter.

Students who are in need of a Wi-Fi connection will be allowed on campus to access the signal, but we ask that they remain in or near their vehicles.

What does this order mean for BBCC employees?
Our college is already complying with the governor’s previous request and has instituted a liberal teleworking policy encouraging as many employees as possible to work from home.

Effective at 5:00 p.m., on March 25, 2020, all instruction and student support services will be conducted remotely where workable. Security will work their normal schedules. Other services such as Big Bend Technology, Business Office, HR, Payroll, M&O/custodial services, and other administrative services will continue operations with alternate schedules, modalities, and/or locations.  Please contact your supervisor to discuss details related to your specific job.

These restrictions apply to vice presidents, all administration, and me.

All Big Bend buildings will be closed to the public, and employees will have limited access to campus. Please prepare now to take home or request any additional resources that you may need to complete your job remotely.

What about graduation?
No decision has been made at this time to change Big Bend’s scheduled June 12 commencement ceremony. The college is aware of how important of a milestone commencement is in the lives of our students, and we want to give them every opportunity to experience graduation. However, being realistic, we are also looking at alternative options in case this ceremony cannot happen as planned.

I will continue to provide updates as we learn more from the state about next steps. Unfortunately there are no concrete answers at this time, and our situation remains fluid. I appreciate your patience and understanding as we try to move forward as best we can with our college’s mission of facilitating students’ success.

Take care of yourself and each other.

3-23-20 Campus Update at 8 a.m.

Big Bend students,

Big Bend Community College is still operating — we are just doing things differently. Our college has moved services and instruction online to the greatest extent possible. This is both a directive of Governor Inslee and the right thing to do to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and keep you and our community healthy.

You can now access support services and appointments online, while a few important resources, like the Library, is still open and practicing responsible social distancing. The STEM Center is closed during spring break.

While we have never gone through something like this before, and things are changing quickly, one thing that will not change is our dedication to educating and serving you – our students.

For a full list of resources and how to access them visit: and for the most update campus information, please visit:

Information for BBCC Students

On what date will my spring quarter classes begin?

For a list of all academic classes and start dates, please click here! Information on Workforce Education classes is available HERE.

How Can I access Big Bend's resources (Financial Aid, Counseling, Library, etc) while the college is operating remotely?

For an up-to-date list of how to access Big Bend Community College resources, please click here!

What should I do if I get sick?
According to the Grant County Health District, if you have traveled from China or another country where coronavirus has been spreading (see CDC travel notices) or been in close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, please take the following steps: 

Call your healthcare provider BEFORE going to get care and tell them about your symptoms and travel. They can provide you instructions for seeking care so that you do not expose others. Samaritan Healthcare has setup a 24-hour hotline for those who think they may have been exposed (509) 764-3331. There are many causes of fevers, coughs, and other respiratory symptoms. Most clinics have surgical masks that you may be asked to wear while in the clinic. Please protect others and wear a mask if asked. Wash your hands. Cover your cough or sneeze. If you are ill, stay at home.

The Washington Department of Health has also established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

Can I pay my tuition and fees online?

Yes, you can pay online or call us in the Business Office 509.793.2024 and we can take payment over the phone (this includes even the STEPP program). 

Will Campus Safety continue to operate?

Campus Safety will continue to patrol the campus to protect the safety and welfare of residence hall students and employees who are expected to be on campus. 

Will the Residence Halls remain open?

Yes, the Residence Halls will remain open for students who live on campus. 

Will tutoring still be available?

Tutoring in the Writing Center and STEM Center is still available but will be conducted remotely. Please see our list of CAMPUS RESOURCES for how to access.

Can I order my textbooks for spring quarter online?
Yes, you can order books online through the BBCC Bookstore on their website and we would encourage you to do so if at all possible as we try and limit the possible spread of COVID-19. If you have any questions, contact the bookstore at (509) 793-2036.
Will the Big Bend cafeteria be open?

No, Sodexo, the company that operates the BBCC Cafeteria will not operate until further notice.

Will the Viking Food Pantry still be open?

The Viking Food Pantry will still be available to the Big Bend Campus Community, but only by appointment. For more information on the Viking Food Pantry, please email or call (509) 793-2081.

What is going to happen with spring athletics?

All spring sports (baseball and softball) have been canceled by the Northwest Athletic Conference. Spring sports athletes will not lose the spring eligibility.

Is the entire Big Bend campus closed? Is the Library closed? What resources are available?

The Library will be closed to the public until further notice. The library is available online during regularly scheduled hours (see below) at Use the chat widget located in the “Ask A Librarian” tab on the right that is manned by library personnel. All databases are available for off-campus login and access, webinars on how to use the library are available via Zoom each Friday. 24/7 online chat reference available. For more information, call (509) 793-2350 or email Please see our list of CAMPUS RESOURCES to see how to access resources from the STEm Center, Writing Center, and Student Support Services. 

Hours of Operation: for the Library Spring Quarter (beginning March 30)

  • Mon-Thurs: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • Saturday: Noon to 6 p.m.
  • CLOSED on Sundays
Is the gymnasium open? Are the weight rooms open?

The Peter C. DeVries Center (gym) is closed until further notice. The weight rooms have also been closed.

General Information

Where can I find this information in different languages?
The Washington State Department of Health has information in 11 languages. Visit this site for more information in those languages.
What is the current status of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) at Big Bend Community College?
Currently, no members of the BBCC community have been diagnosed or are showing any symptoms of COVID-19 . For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Grant County, visit the Grant County Health District website HERE.

How is COVID-19 spread and what are the symptoms?
Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing and sneezing, or close person-to-person contact. It can also be spread by touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands. Symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing, and cough.
What preventative measures can I take to prevent illness?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus. The CDC recommends everyday prevention measures, including:

  • Everyone get a seasonal flu vaccination if possible. While it will not prevent the novel coronavirus, influenza is currently in widespread circulation, and initial symptoms can be similar to novel coronavirus.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home from school or work if sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, and for at least 20 seconds. Or, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Don’t share food and drinks.
  • Clean and disinfect shared surfaces and objects that are touched frequently.
How is BBCC working to reduce the risk of COVID-19?

Big Bend has canceled all public events on campus that will have more than 250 participants based on a recommendation from the Grant County Health District until further notice.

Will BBCC cancel classes?
All classes for the Spring 2020 quarter are being taught online and will be taught online for the remainder of the Spring Quarter. All classes that can be taught online will continue to be taught online for the Fall 2020 quarter as well.
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