Rendering of renovation at NCC in Sheldon

A $9 million health sciences construction and renovation project is planned for Building H at Northwest Iowa Community College’s Sheldon campus, which would add 30,000 square feet of new classrooms and offices and update the existing facilities.

SHELDON—Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon is moving forward on a $9 million renovation and construction project to improve its health science facilities in 2021.

Mark Brown, NCC’s vice president of operations and finance, updated the board of trustees on the planned improvements at its regular monthly meeting Monday, Dec. 14.

“We would be expecting to be asking your approval on a notice of hearing and letting on Feb. 22,” Brown said.

The construction and renovations include building a 30,000-square-foot addition with new classrooms, offices and public spaces as well as renovating the nearly 18,000 square feet of the existing space.

The expansion and renovations will provide new learning spaces and opportunities for expansion of the nursing, radiologic technology, emergency services and certified nurse aide programs.

NCC will begin accepting bids Jan. 12 and the board will hold a hearing and approval of bids on Feb. 22.

The project will be supported in part by the $7.6 million general obligation bonds that NCC will begin selling on April 19.

The board also voted Dec. 14 to maintain NCC’s current COVID-19 procedures and guidelines through the spring and summer.

NCC president Alethea Stubbe presented the spring/summer 2021 COVID-19 response plan with the recommendation that the college continue existing practices, since she said they have proved effective.

“We have found our mask requirement and social distancing practices have worked very well,” Stubbe said. “We predicted that we might have a potential spike following our Thanksgiving break, which thankfully we never experienced. Our procedures are working, our numbers have remained very low.”

Face masks became a requirement in public campus spaces starting Oct. 5.

The procedures will be effective Jan. 1-July 31 and will be subject to change as applicable based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Iowa Department of Public Health.

According to the guidelines, visitors will be required to wear face masks in all public spaces while on campus, and in classrooms, labs and personal office settings where social distancing is not possible.

NCC will not require temperature checks, but individuals are expected to self-monitor their symptoms and to stay home if they have been in close contact with someone who had a confirmed COVID-19 case or are experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19.

Frequent cleaning of high-touch points will continue, and students or employees who test positive are directed to quarantine at home and notify NCC.

Full guidelines are available on the NCC website, nwicc.edu.

Also in relation to the ongoing pandemic, the board was updated that NCC’s December graduation ceremony has been postponed, with plans to combine it with the spring ceremony on May 14.

Forty-six students will be graduating at the end of the fall 2020 semester. Vice president of student and academic services John Hartog added that estimates for spring graduation are similar to what they have been in previous years.

“We’re very optimistic we will be similarly situated to where we were last spring. We might be down a little bit but not like we’ve seen at community colleges nationwide,” Hartog said.

NCC’s financial outlook also has been steady. Brown reported that the college is keeping pace with where it was at this point last year.

“We seem to be right there both in terms of revenue and expenses,” he said.

He reported that overall revenue for the year is up 3 percent, and that salaries and raises also are up at least 1 percent from where they stood last year.

Brown also reported that overall expenses are down by at least $200,000, which he said may be due in part to changes to traffic and activity in some buildings due to COVID-19 procedures. He said he is pleased to see NCC performing well at this point in a highly unusual fiscal year.

“As you remember in past months, this whole semester was a bit of a black box dealing with the pandemic, so if financially it looks a lot like a regular year. That’s nothing short of amazing,” Brown said. “We’re very fortunate that it looks as good as it does.”